The PAVE program encourages military veterans to self-check to prevent diabetic foot ulcers.

A veterans hospital in Reno, Nevada, is hoping to pave the way to pave the way to good health with a new program aimed at encouraging diabetic wound care among former military personnel.

The Reno VA Hospital recently unveiled that they will participate in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Prevent Amputations in Veterans Everywhere (PAVE) program. The program was originally established in 1993 as the Preservation-Amputation Care and Treatment Program in 1993.

Increased awareness

Dr. Frank Davis told KOLO News that 45 percent of veterans who have been diagnosed with diabetic foot ulcers die within five years. He said that a lack of awareness among some patients is part of the problem.

“Go through life and think nothing is wrong,” Davis told the news source. “I don’t hurt so nothing is wrong. And they literally wear holes in the bottom of their feet. We call those diabetic foot ulcers.”

According to the Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, a 2016 study of diabetic foot ulcers examined more than 66,000 veterans with type 2 diabetes and found the initial severity of the foot ulcer was a significant predictor of death, more so than coronary artery disease or stroke. The subjects were tracked for an average of 27.7 months, and the one-, two- and five-year survival rates were 80.80 percent, 60.01 percent and 28.64 percent, respectively.

The facility uses a simple device to remind veterans what they must do to prevent a diabetic foot ulcer: a poster that reminds them to “WIN” – Wash, Inspect and Never walk barefoot.

The early detection technique was hailed by patient Steven Potts, who credited the program and clinicians for helping him keep his condition in check.

“I have a pump now, I have great follow-up care,” Potts, who was diagnosed with type one diabetes while serving in the military, told KOLO News. “They’ve taken care of my feet. I have an insulin pump and a wireless glucose sensor measuring my sugar throughout the day. I feel like the VA, especially here, is on the cutting edge as far as patient care goes.”

Special orthotics

As a part of the PAVE program, veterans receive a special shoe insert approximately once a month. A special scanner identifies points of excess pressure or a walking imbalance. The insert, designed by a computer, helps them apply more uniform pressure to the foot to avoid creating hot spots, and improves their gait or stride. Patients receiving the orthotic undergo a checkup every six months to a year to make sure the device is helping prevent infected wounds.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.