COPAA member Jerry S. went from being a single leg amputee to losing both legs last spring. In order for him to continue driving and remain independent, he had hand controls installed in his car. Previously, as a right below knee amputee, he had a left foot accelerator in his car so that he could use his left foot to be able to drive. Once he had his second amputation, he no longer would be able to use either foot to drive, so he had the hand controls installed, which meant that he no longer needed the left foot accelerator. He contacted me and said that he would like to donate the left foot accelerator to anyone in the group who might be able to use it. I put the word out and Rick N., a right below knee amputee, responded and asked if it was still available. I put him in touch with Jerry and they made arrangements to make it possible for Rick to pick up the accelerator. Jerry had one that you secure to the floor of the car and another one that was portable and could be transferred to any car at any time and he was donating both. This is such a wonderful example of how we support each other at COPAA. Nice going, Jerry!
Last year the conference was cancelled due to Covid but they did offer it virtually, with several presentations from excellent speakers. It was interactive so that you could meet and talk to other amputees on a variety of topics as well as social hours to get to know them better. While it was very successful considering the change in format, it certainly wasn’t the same as being there in person. Over a thousand folks attended and it did give people who otherwise couldn’t attend an an person conference because of travel costs and other expenses incurred while being away.
Well, good news! This year, they are planning on holding the conference using a hybrid model with both in person attendance as well as a virtual format again. This year the conference is from September 29-October 2 in Shaumburg, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). Scholarships are available to those who are new amputees or those who have never attended a conference before. For more details, contact the Amputee Coalition at Amputee-Coalition.org. Further information about the conference will be released in March.
There are currently 2.1 million Americans living with limb loss and limb difference in the United States each year today and and each year 185,000 undergo amputation surgery. However, only 30% to 35% receive a prosthetic device through the Veterans Health Administration. To bridge the gap, Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) introduced the Access to Assistive Technology and Devices for Americans Act.
Also known as the ‘Triple A’ Study Act, the bill would require the Government Accountability Office to study the current state of access to prosthetics after the amputation of a limb. Through this bill, both Senators aim to give officials a holistic understanding of how many Americans have access to prostheses. Passing this legislation will provide the missing data that will help officials better understanding the obstacles patients face when seeking to acquire a prosthesis.
Furthermore, this legislation will assess the appropriate coverage for assistive devices provided to patients who live with limb loss. This assessment also includes affordability, evaluation and guidelines for assistive device determination; matching specific devices with the individual beneficiary, rehabilitation services to support adjustment to the amputee life; timelines for assessment for surgery and evaluation of assistive devices; and timely access to care.
According to data from the Amputee Coalition among those living with limb loss in the U.S. 54% underwent amputation surgery due to vascular disease, 45% are due to trauma, and less than 2% are due to cancer. The data also shows that black Americans are up to four times more likely to have an amputation than white or Asian Americans.
Please contact your Legislators to ask them to co sponsor this bill. It will change our access to proper prosthetic care. Note that this a bi- partisan effort.