Foot care crucial for veterans with diabetes

RENO, Nev (KOLO) November is Diabetes Awareness Month. It’s estimated 16,000,000 have it—that includes Type 1 or Type 2. The local Veterans Hospital takes the disease seriously where simple emphasis on a patient’s foot can save a life.

Go inside Dr. Frank Davis's office, and you'll see a prosthetic. It's a reminder to patients at the VA what can happen if they don't take control of their diabetes.

Steven Potts was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes while in the military. While he wasn't happy with the diagnosis, he says it happened at a good time.

“I have a pump now, I have great follow-up care. They've taken care of my feet. I have an insulin pump and a wireless glucose sensor measuring my sugar throughout the day. I feel like the VA, especially here, is on the cutting edge as far as patient care goes,” says Potts.

A WIN poster underscores what diabetics must do--especially as it applies to foot care. Wash, Inspect, and Never walk barefoot. It's all part of the veterans PAVE Program, which stands for Prevent Amputations, in Veterans, Everywhere.

A big goal, considering most of the veterans you see with amputated toes, feet and legs, ended up that way because of diabetes.

“Go through life and think nothing is wrong. I don't hurt so nothing is wrong. And they literally wear holes in the bottom of their feet. We call those diabetic foot ulcers,” says Podiatrist Dr. Frank Davis.

Dr. Davis says 45% of veterans diagnosed with foot ulcers die within 5 years. To keep the infections at bay, Dr. Davis uses an Amfit Scanner to identify pressure points, uneven walking, and other measurements to design an orthotic unique to the patient.

Once designed with the help of a computer, veterans can receive the shoe insert in about a month. More comfort, uniform pressure and better gate are often the result, not to mention diabetic foot ulcers don’t have to be inevitable.

Dr. Davis says diabetic patients often return six months to a year to make sure the orthotic is doing its job.