Study compares VA prosthetic prescription, repair rates

Authors of a recent study detailing prescription and repair rates of prosthetic limbs in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suggested their results may have implications for national prosthetic insurance fairness laws and rehabilitation. 

Researchers from Brown University, Providence R.I., and the Providence VA Medical Center classified 32,400 veterans with an initial prosthetic prescription between 2000 and 2010 by amputation level and type, and calculated annual rates of prescription and repair using person-time and compared groups.

They found veterans with lower limb amputation had higher annual prescription and repair rates compared with veterans with upper limb amputation. Body-powered prostheses had higher repair rates, whereas myoelectric devices had higher prescription rates, the researcher found. Microprocessor knees had higher repair and prescription rates than did fluid and friction devices. Veterans younger than 65 years had higher rates of prescription and repair compared with those older than 65 years, according to study findings.

The researchers said their data on prosthetic prescription and repair can be used to estimate rates if national prosthetic parity laws were adopted, because the VA has no payment caps or co-pays. They said annual costs would likely exceed the typical annual and/or lifetime caps in most insurance plans, and in states without insurance fairness for amputees laws, the costs would likely limit access to needed devices.

For more information: 

Etter K. Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2014;doi:10.3109/17483107.2014.921246.


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