By FELICITY INGRAHAM
Far too many diabetics are unnecessarily losing their limbs, according to foot specialist Dr Daniel Johnson, whose team is about to launch an ambitious plan to reduce the rate of amputations by 50 per cent.
Foot and Ankle International, led by Dr Johnson, will be hosting a team of international expert podiatrists over the next few weeks for the implementation of the LEAP programme designed specifically to help diabetics.
LEAP (Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention) seeks to address the prevalence of amputations in diabetics. Surgeons sometimes remove an apparently rotting toe, foot or portion of a leg to save the rest of the body.
After leaving front line politics, Dr Johnson, the former Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, not only re-opened his practice, he also found affiliates in New York, Atlanta and Miami to ensure that patients who wish to travel abroad for additional care can go directly to associates of his practice.
To address the case of diabetics losing limbs at alarming rates, he decided to reach out to his international team to call them to his home country and help solve this crisis.
"We are implementing a five-year plan to reduce the rate of amputation in diabetics by 50 per cent and then share the model with the world," said.
"Welcome to 21st century medicine! Foot and Ankle International is a group of podiatric medical doctors and surgeons on a mission to solve the problem with the diabetic foot wreaking havoc on the population. We have embarked upon project LEAP, putting our money where our mouths are, investing massively in the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. We are looking at sports medicine, regenerative medicine and healthy lifestyles."
Dr Johnson has teamed up with the Spectrum Surgi Centre and is joined by doctors such as Dr Stephen Dorsette; Dr Joe Fox, a podiatry specialist from New York City with more than 44 years of medical experience, and Dr Stan Kalish in Atlanta, whose revolutionary surgical procedures on limbs resulted in "the Kalish osteotomy" in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery.
The LEAP programme will not only focus on surgery, but will also have a heavy focus on preventative care, teaching diabetics how to prevent the maladies of the condition. The doctors will be teaming with sports franchises and and health and wellness facilities to produce the best outcome for diabetics.
"We have put together the best team of surgeons or practitioners to deal with any kind of foot problem you can imagine," Dr Johnson told Tribune Health.
"When you preserve a limb, you preserve a life. When your feet hurt, you hurt all over. The problem with diabetics is that they can't feel their feet. They are in a situation where the worse it gets, the more you can't feel, and the mind thinks the problem is not as great as it is because you can't feel it. We must reprogramme our minds towards prevention."
By implementing healthier lifestyles, he added, patients can avoid the habits that lead to heart attack or stroke and greatly improve the quality of their lives.
Dr Johnson is also taking the LEAP programme to the Turks and Caicos, and thereafter he and his team of specialists will begin to share the programme with the region and then go worldwide.
"You don't want to have an amputation, go blind, or end up on dialysis," he said.
"What we are doing at Foot and Ankle is really putting 90 per cent of our resources, time and energy into a preventative model and I think we will see great results. Let's see what we could do to improve the lives of our people."
Foot and Ankle International is located on Dean's Lane, atop Fort Charlotte, and can be found online at www.footandankleinternational.com.