Losing Both Legs Yet Still Walking

    Study Shows Double Amputees Remain Independent and Walking for Years

    TORONTO, Feb. 20 /CNW/ - Most patients who lose both legs below the knee
and are referred for rehabilitation services regain their ability to walk
using prosthetic limbs, remaining mobile and independent for years, according
to a new study being published in the March issue of the American Journal of
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
    Researchers at West Park Healthcare Centre in west Toronto followed up on
the cases of 82 double-leg amputees admitted to the hospital for
rehabilitation between 1998 and 2003. Of these former patients who had lost
their legs below the knee due to complications from diabetes or peripheral
vascular disease,

      -  45 per cent were still alive
      -  39 per cent were deceased (most frequently from heart attack)
      -  16 per cent were status unknown

    Thirty-four of the former patients agreed to be interviewed, at a mean
time of 3.3 years after their discharge from rehabilitation. Of those
patients, 85 per cent were still wearing their prosthesis and walking on a
daily basis. The researchers were also able to examine more than half the
deceased cases and determined that 72 per cent of those patients were still
walking before their death.
    "This study shows that people living with chronic diseases such as
diabetes can overcome serious conditions like amputation and learn to live
well," said Dr. Heather Mac Neill, a physiatrist now working at Bridgepoint
Health and lead author of the study. "It clearly shows that these patients not
only do well in rehabilitation, but they learn to thrive as they continue
their care journey."
    Most of the patients were independent in their activities of daily
living, such as dressing (94 per cent), toileting (100 per cent) and bathing
(61 per cent). Almost all were living in a home or apartment, and a third were
living alone.
    "New research like this is really an investment in people who still have
a lot to contribute to society," said Dr. Michael Devlin, a physiatrist at
West Park Healthcare Centre and the study's senior author. "The payoff is a
higher quality of life for these patients, who also serve as an inspiration to
others facing similar challenges."
    The study, which was co-authored by Tim Pauley and Dr. Alexandra Yudin,
also found that the most commonly used mobility aid indoors was one or two
canes, and a walker if outdoors.

    West Park Healthcare Centre provides specialized rehabilitation, complex
continuing care and long term care services, helping people overcome their
health barriers to live the fullest lives possible after the onset of an
illness or injury. The Centre is also recognized internationally for its
expertise and research in respiratory medicine, particularly for its care for
people with tuberculosis, and its rehabilitation services for those with
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

For further information:

For further information: Vince Rice, Director, Public Relations, West
Park Healthcare Centre, Phone: (416) 243-3730, Email: vince.rice@westpark.org;
Bernadette Seward, Manager, Communications, Bridgepoint Health, Phone: (416)
461-8251 ext. 2177, Email: bseward@bridgepointhealth.ca

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