David Janke likes to wear comfortable shorts around VA North Texas Healthcare Systems’ Dallas campus proudly showing off his colorful stars and stripes.
Janke typically takes the same familiar route to his trusted second floor Amputation Specialty Clinic. Although a frequent clinic visitor, this trip has a different focus in mind—getting fitted for a hinged-foot prosthesis. Or two.
David Janke spent 18 years in uniform with the U.S. Army. He is a bilateral amputee who’s been coming to VA since 2007 when he had both legs amputated below the knee. His colorful stars and stripes are not the result of a trip to a tattoo studio, but instead, are durable vinyl wraps displaying his steadfast love of patriotism and personal freedom.
Janke’s visit to secure an amputee mobility predictor assessment is possible because of VA North Texas’ capabilities as one of just 18 Level II Polytrauma Amputation Network sites certified to provide specialized care to Veterans with limb loss, in all of VA.
Janke is one of 70 Veterans who will visit the Amputation Specialty Clinic team over one of four service days this month. The team consists of an amputee medical director, a coordinator, a certified prosthetist, physical therapists and occupational therapists.
“The team works closely together to address any issues the amputee Veteran may have and provide regular follow-up care,” said Karen Schwarm, polytrauma physical therapist and team member.
Among those Veterans living with limb loss, the main causes are vascular disease, including diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, trauma and rarely, cancer. Approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States each year with many of those patients at risk for further limb loss.
For Janke, this visit is a way forward to a new prosthesis, enabling easier moves around his property, walks on more rugged terrain, and managing stairs more easily. He met with a physical therapist and performed a functional evaluation to see what level of activity he could tolerate before meeting with the specialty team.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else for my care,” said Janke. “The VA does a really good job and the staff goes out of their way to help me with anything I need.”
About the Author: Jennifer Roy is a public affairs specialist for VA North Texas Health Care System. She is a retired USN Chief Petty Officer, public affairs manager and award-winning photojournalist.