Over the Next Three Years

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By Kendra Calhoun

It has been estimated that the number of people living with limb loss will more than double by the year 2050 to 3.6 million.1 Adults and children are developing diabetes and peripheral vascular disease in the United States at epidemic rates. Given this and the ongoing military conflicts, the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) is increasingly vigilant in proactively helping people affected by limb loss learn how to live to their full potential and how to avoid the serious complications that can follow an amputation, such as obesity, heart disease, and further amputations.

Over the next three years, the ACA will increase programs and services to span the life of the amputee and expand awareness and education about primary and secondary limb-loss prevention. The ACA is developing a five-year plan that will advance the amputee community through lifelong learning, community reintegration, and increased awareness of limb loss. The following are two key initiatives of the plan, which will be launched later this year.

National Limb Loss Registry

A key initiative is the creation of a National Limb Loss Registry, which will provide a comprehensive and integrated database that reflects limb-loss prevalence, etiology, demographics, and amputee care. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System created the National Prosthetic Patient Database (NPPD), which goes a long way toward addressing this issue for veterans, but no such mechanism exists in the civilian population.

Given current trends in healthcare reform, more compre­hensive and accessible limb-loss information is needed to provide knowledge that will improve limb-loss care, advance limb-loss prevention, and reduce costs associated with limb loss. To this end, the ACA conceptualized the National Limb Loss Registry and presented the idea to Congress this spring. We expect to work on the development of the registry with our congressional champions over the next several years.

Arms and Legs Are Not a Luxury

Over the next three years, amputees will see more and more states pass prosthetic and orthotic insurance parity laws. Currently, 16 states (Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Indiana, Vermont, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, Iowa, and Arkansas) have passed laws that ensure fair coverage for prosthetics. The ACA salutes all of the state advocates who spent long hours working with their legislatures to make these state laws a reality—but there is more work to be done. More than 30 states have legislation in various stages of progress in their state capitols, and we have a federal prosthetic and orthotic bill pending introduction in Congress.

More than 25 consumer groups have signed on in support of the federal prosthetic and orthotic parity bill. With the support of these organizations, our many individual ACA advocates across the country, the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA), and other supporters from the orthotic and prosthetic community, we will see progress on the federal legislation this year. Visit www.armsandlegsarenotaluxury.com to learn more about the parity campaign and how the Amputee Coalition's efforts will continue to advance general coverage issues beyond prosthetic and orthotic parity for years to come.

For more information about the ACA, visit www.amputee-coalition.org

Kendra Calhoun is the president and CEO of the Amputee Coalition of America.

  1. Ziegler-Graham K, MacKenzie EJ, Ephraim PL, Travison TG, Brookmeyer R. Estimating the Prevalence of Limb Loss in the United States: 2005 to 2050. Archives of Internal Medicine. 89;2008:422-429.