The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) launched its “Coalition to Walk and Run Again,” an effort to aid uninsured and underinsured victims of the April 15th Boston Marathon terror attack. The bombing killed 3 people and left more than 200 injured, several of whom lost portions of their legs as a result. The group pledged that those who have, or are undergoing amputations, will be provided major assistance with the cost of their initial prostheses and related care and components, the group stated at a telephone press conference on April 30.

Although information is limited due to HIPAA laws, AOPA officials estimate that as many as 10 to 12 victims who had extremities amputated have either no health insurance or are under-insured and will face daunting costs associated with obtaining prosthetic limbs.

“Our goal here as the makers of artificial limbs is to extend compassionate aid to the victims of the Boston terror attacks...We want to ensure that, in the midst of this horrific tragedy, these individuals are not further traumatized by the harsh and unreasonable limits that are present in all too many health insurance policies today in the United States. As an industry, we would not want to see these people victimized twice,” stated Tom Fise, AOPA Executive Director.

AOPA Vice President Charles Dankmeyer, founder of Dankmeyer, Inc., an orthotics and prosthetics firm in Linthicum, MD, added: “As the certified prosthetists and orthotists who practice in patient care facilities and the orthotic and prosthetic manufacturers who develop the technology and create the components for artificial limbs and customized bracing that restore mobility, we are in a unique position to offer needed assistance. We want to do what whatever we can to help these fellow Americans as they start this challenging journey.”

Over the first six to 12 months, the limb will change shape and size and, as the patients continue to recover and begin to do rehabilitation, their insurance companies will be contacted and coverage determined, explained Greig Martino of United Prosthetics, Inc., in Dorchester and Braintree, MA, a prosthetist with 39 years of experience. “Their residual limbs need time to heal, and the types of devices needed, will be determined at the proper time,” he said.

A recent study by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated five-year prosthetic costs to be as high as $450,000 for a person with multiple limb amputations, $230,000 for a person with a unilateral lower-limb amputation and $117,000 for a person with a unilateral upper-limb amputation.

The initial prosthesis could include advanced electronic components or not, depending on the patient’s initial needs to allow them to return to the activities of daily living.

Bravo, AOPA! Our thoughts are with the victims of the attack, and all new amputees as they begin their long road to recovery.

Beth G. Sisk


Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2013 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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