In British Columbia today, there is more than one amputation every day as a result of a diabetic foot ulcer. It is one too many considering they are largely preventable with proper care.
In recognition of World Foot Health Awareness Month this May, the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) has released a new report, Impact of offloading devices on the cost of diabetic foot ulcers in British Columbia, which addresses the benefits of public funding for offloading devices—specialized products such as total contact casts, custom braces and orthoses that relieve pressure on foot ulcers to help healing. The CDA estimates that increased government funding for such specialized devices could save the British Columbia health-care system $23 million a year.
“Amputation of a leg is considered by people with diabetes to be one of the most feared and debilitating consequences of diabetes,” says Dr. Jan Hux, chief science officer, CDA. “We know that devices that relieve pressure on foot ulcers reduce the risk of amputation. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that governments fund them to increase access.”
While these devices can reduce overall health-care spending, there is also a need for improved foot screening, education, access to diabetes supports and foot care specialists.
Since Victoria resident, Dr. Iain Forbes, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a medical student in 1967, he has lived a full life: a career as a family physician, marriage, raising three children, becoming a grandparent and travelling extensively. However, a few years ago, on a holiday in Vietnam, he tripped on a sidewalk and injured his foot. Three weeks later, he noticed a single black spot at the end of the big toe. Over the next months he had several toes removed, and eventually had to have the whole leg amputated.
“Issues with your feet can happen so fast that it’s important to act quickly. Time is of the essence,” says Dr. Forbes. Rick Blickstead, president and CEO, CDA, adds: “Working as partners, we can do more to help people with diabetes avoid ulcers and amputations. It’s an effort that’s definitely worth it.”
For more information, visit diabetes.ca/offloadingdevices.