Oscar Betancourt has lived with diabetes for years. He knows letting it get out of control can affect all parts of his body, so when he noticed a sore not healing quickly on his foot he knew it was serious.
His doctors at Harris Health System’s Aldine Health Center felt the same way and referred him to a specialty service at the system’s Ben Taub Hospital for follow-up. They knew the sore, if infected and not responding to treatment could require an amputation.
At Ben Taub Hospital, Betancourt saw a team of experts led by Dr. Lee Poythress of the Osteomyelitis Wound Clinic, and T.J. Pelton, physical therapist and manager, Rehabilitation Services. The team specializes in saving diabetes-ravaged lower limbs (leg, feet and toes) and found a significant problem for Betancourt—the sore had gotten infected and spread to the bones in his foot.
“I put it in perspective, if I had to lose a toe to save my foot, that was OK,” Betancourt says. “Of course, keeping my toes and feet was the best thing for me.”
Unfortunately, saving a person’s limbs is not always possible. A person with diabetes has a 25 percent lifetime chance of developing a foot ulcer and 85 percent of all amputations are preceded by an ulcer. Once gangrene or dead tissue sets in, amputation is often the only option, says Poythress.
Based on 2010 data in the U.S., 73,000 lower limb amputations were performed on adults with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Society. Amputations and associated care for diabetes cost $245 billion annually—$176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in lost productivity.
“It’s about saving a patient’s quality of life and helping them continue to be productive members of society,” says Poythress, also an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine. “We have an aggressive program to treat and heal foot wounds and infections. Amputation is our last option.”
Betancourt can’t praise the clinic and its staff enough. After 40 days of treatment, staff saved his right foot. Since his near-amputation scare, he checks, washes and dries his feet daily.
“Our physical therapists are certified in advanced wound care and use a hands-on approach to care for patients to promote an optimal wound healing environment,” Pelton says. “Our team educates patients in the care of the wound and how to implement lifestyle changes that will promote healing and prevent reoccurrence.”
The team uses multiple treatment methods to care for patients and has seen excellent results in wound healing and decreased amputation rates, Poythress says.
Since his recovery, Betancourt has made significant healthy lifestyle changes and is able to maintain a job that often keeps him on his feet.
“I eat well and exercise more,” he says. “I’ve always been one to exercise, but now I’ve joined a gym and make it a regular part of my life.”
Poythress warns that patients with diabetes who fail to control their sugar levels risk severe health issues, including death. Diabetes can contribute to kidney disease, blindness, heart attacks and stroke.
Symptoms of diabetic foot disease:
• Fungal infection
• Neuropathy—decreased feeling in toes, feet and legs
• Dry skin and foot infections
• Developing of bunions, corns and calluses
• Ingrown toenails
For more information on diabetic foot disease, visit www.diabetes.org/living -with-diabetes/
Baylor College of Medicine will be closed Monday, May 28 in observance of Memorial Day. https://t.co/6CNQMhyJ92
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Baylor College of Medicine will be closed Monday, May 28 in observance of Memorial Day.
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#TAMHSC researchers are working to solve #diabetes-related blindness: https://t.co/D1Pi8CaD0H #Health
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Leticia Rousseve found comfort whenever she verbalized her frustrations and feelings to others who understood what she was going through as a caregiver for her husband, James, during his soft tissue sarcoma treatment. “This taught me an important lesson that I now share with others going through cancer: you are not alone.” Now, she pays it forward by volunteering with myCancerConnection, MD Anderson’s one-on-one cancer support community of patients, survivors and caregivers who have been there. #endcancer
At sprawling VA hospital in southern Dallas, a righteous battle to keep the promise to care for America's Veterans https://t.co/yBX7Jqyn6X via @dallasnews
6.1, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Join @MethodistHosp Cancer Center at St. John for a celebration and luncheon as we honor those living with a history of cancer. Register today: https://t.co/epZbgu9fA0 https://t.co/FLv19JSQs0
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is @USArmy Veteran M. Ross Kirk. https://t.co/Z1oqPWmWig
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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran M. Ross Kirk. Ross served for 28 years and retired in 1988. He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. Ross served two tours in Vietnam with the 4/39th Infantry Battalion, the 9th Infantry Division and the 5th Special Forces Group with the Chaplain Corps. He was also a member of the 101st Airborne Division, the 18th Airborne Corps 1st Division, and the Green Beret Parachute Demonstration Team. He wore the Green Beret on active duty for nine years and is nicknamed the “Leapin’ Deacon” due to his 225 military jumps, including 50 HALO (high altitude, low opening) jumps and 450 sport parachute jumps. Ross’ positions in the Army included Command Chaplain for the Special Operations Command (Airborne) and Senior Chaplain of the Combined Peacekeeping Forces in the liberation of Grenada. He retired at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1988 and has lived with his wife Judy in Wakefield, Kansas for 27 years. They have four children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Ross was awarded four Bronze Stars, five Air Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He also earned the Ranger Tab, the Special Forces Tab and Master Parachutist and Air Assault Badges. Thank you for your service, Ross!
New @USDOT program provides free pilot training for Veterans https://t.co/z6mIJVPMlU via @Militarydotcom
New research funded by Department of Defense grants will look into why some women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer develop resistance to endocrine therapies. https://t.co/TMhNyXWZ8Y
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Congratulations to M.D/Ph.D. student Muhammad Saad Shamim on becoming a 2018 fellow of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans program.
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Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale talks about her journey with obsessive compulsive disorder. https://t.co/SxpIBc1gyA #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth