A Current State of Affairs

Written by Beth Hudson:

I love my PT - I call her “The Dragonslayer” because she doesn’t take any crap from me, pushes me while knowing my limits, and challenges me in ways that I would never think to challenge myself. If I have a goal in mind, she not only figures out how I can do it, but also devises a step-by-step process for it, breaks it down into manageable parts and then implements the acquisition of each skill to obtain the goal. She is my G.O.A.T. of the PT world. She also shares.

She recently shared an article from the Techniques in Orthopaedics - Transitional and Surgical Techniques Journal titled Living Well After Amputation: Lessons in Innovation, Peer Support, and Health Policy (Cain, Jeffrey J. MD, FAAFP; Ignaszewski, Daniel BA; Blymire, Carol MS,Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc., 2021). Here’s the link for the full article: https://journals.lww.com/techortho/Fulltext/2021/12000/Living_Well_After_Amputation__Lessons_in.9.aspx

If you read this article and also read the Amputation Coalition’s bimonthly magazine, you will be familiar with many of the statistics and information included therein. To me, it seems like a fair assessment of where we were, where we are now, and where we need to go in the future.

What blows my mind is the idea that some insurance companies still have terrible policies as they apply to prosthetics. Not covering a prosthesis (which allows a person to again become a contributing and working member of the community) is beyond me. If onlhy one-third of amputees who need prostheses get them, then the other two-thirds are not able to contribute and are basically forced to use social services.

Now don’t get me wrong - social services are important and should be used by those who truly need them - myself included. If my doctors would allow me to work outside of my home, I would have returned back to my classroom in a heartbeat; but alas, my individual health issues wouldn’t allow it. I’ve read many facebook posts of the frustrations of amputees who would like nothing better than to get back to work, only to find  their insurance will not pay for their prosthetic needs. This is bullshit! And also where advocacy is so very important.

What good are advanced prosthetics if no one can afford them? If I have an advanced leg with a microprocessor, the price tag is easily in the $120,000 range. Most insurances consider prostheses to be DME (Durable Medical Equipment) and only pay 80%. Sure, I’ll write a check for $24,000 and watch it bounce all the way to the bank. However, if I get my knee replaced (internal), have it fail, and need it replaced or revised - that is covered 100%. In my opinion, that’s absurd and needs to be changed. Also, some insurance companies only allow one prostheses per lifetime - so how many amputees do you know who have kept the same prostheses they started with? None, zippo, zilch. Advocacy for amputees is a large portion of the Amputation Coalition’s mission. Much has been done in the recent past to improve the quality of our lives, but there is still much to be done.