ANN ARBOR — By the time Sally Joy was referred to the University of Michigan Orthotics and Prosthetics Center, the scenario was grim: she could need an amputation.
Diagnosed with diabetes at age 16 in an era when treatment was limited, Joy’s right leg was plagued by chronic ulcers that threatened surgical removal of the limb. But thanks to a series of orthotic interventions at U-M over the last 30 years – from shoe inserts to leg braces – the swimmer and yoga enthusiast has thus far been able to avoid the threat of amputation.
“They kept me on my feet – literally,” says Joy, 62.
Advances in orthotics and prosthetics at the center have greatly helped people like Joy, and now with the facility improvements the orthotics and prosthetics staff will be able to serve patients even better.
Coinciding with its 100th year anniversary this year, the O&P center has undergone $1.2 million in renovations. The center has seen a 32 percent increase in outpatient visits over the last five years. These renovations have helped the center nearly double the size of its waiting room, increase the number of clinic exam rooms, and add therapy rooms, office and supply rooms, and peer counseling rooms. They have also provided accommodations for the U-M amputee support network. The extra space will allow more physicians, orthotists, and prosthetists to see more patients every day at the center, which now sees roughly 25,000 to 30,000 visits a year.
Patient needs at the O&P center are wide and diverse. Some need artificial limbs. Other patients need orthotics devices, ranging from cranial shaping helmets for infants to spinal bracing, upper and lower extremity orthoses, and custom-made shoes. Orthoses can be used to treat such conditions as arthritis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injuries.
“There are limited places where people can get their prosthetic and orthotic needs met. Most places are private,” says James A. Leonard Jr., M.D., clinical professor for U-M physical medicine and rehabilitation. The center is among the few university-based facilities in the country that offers comprehensive services with a multidisciplinary approach to care.
“I think these are people who have faced challenges in their life and deal with environments that are not always the most accessible or friendly,” Leonard says. “Our goal is to provide a friendly, welcoming environment for all of our patients, just like we’re trying to do across the rest of the U-M Health System.” So, they carefully designed a place that accommodates everyone, whether they’re coming in with prosthetics, braces, or wheelchairs.
The public is invited to an open house June 19 that will include tours, giveaways, and food, from 4-6:30 p.m. at the O&P center, located in the Eisenhower Plaza, 2850 S. Industrial Hwy, Suite 400. For more details, visit the O&P website.