Preventive Care: 500 pairs of shoes, 1 message

Published: April 12, 2023


Once a mesmerizing ballroom dancer, Maria G. wowed crowds with her effortless poise and nimble footwork. But complex diabetes ended her dancing days prematurely.

Once a mesmerizing ballroom dancer, Maria G. wowed crowds with her effortless poise and nimble footwork. But complex diabetes ended her dancing days prematurely. A staph infection in her foot didn’t heal, leading to an amputation below the knee. After hanging up her dancing shoes, Maria now teaches and watches other dance enthusiasts live out her passion. 

The thought of undergoing an amputation is beyond devastating. Unfortunately, for far too many people, it’s a reality they have to face. Witnessing the impact of those difficult circumstances can be hard to put into words.

That’s why Podimetrics sought to bring attention to this issue in a compelling way. The team crafted a near 7-foot sculpture composed of almost 500 pairs of shoes. Next to it were other shoes on display, like Maria’s sparkly ballroom shoes. Each with their own stories of the shoe owner’s life-altering amputations. The sculpture emphasized the need for preventive care and highlighted the heartbreaking reality of those living with diabetes-related amputations. 

Each pair of shoes carries a story, a tale of lost mobility and deferred dreams. They represent the hardship that comes with a limited quality of life. These seemingly discarded pieces of footwear hold a weight and impact on those who have had to leave them behind.

The meaningful display at ViVE 2023 in Nashville left a lasting impression on attendees who stopped to share their personal stories and connections with complex diabetes and amputations. It’s also just one part of Podimetrics’ ongoing mission to bring attention to the issue and promote awareness about the benefits of preventive technology, which can save feet and limbs.

As large as the sculpture appeared, its shoes only represented a fraction of the people living with complex diabetes who have lost limbs and feet. Almost 140,000 amputations related to diabetes happen yearly in the U.S., and 85% are avoidable. This sculpture represents less than 1% of those impacted annually. 

One of Podimetrics’ focus areas is supporting people most adversely impacted by the amputations associated with complex diabetes, who are often unnoticed and underserved. This started with a partnership launched last year with the American Diabetes Association and other organizations — the Amputation Prevention Alliance. This initiative seeks to raise awareness among clinicians about preventing amputations. It also aims to empower patients and promote policy changes in communities with high amputation rates.

Every hour, about 14 people living with complex diabetes lose part or all of their lower limbs. Most of those people are Black, Latino, or Indigenous. Increasingly, they are also under the age of 45. And almost 50% of these people will be dead within five years. Even worse, Black people are four times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to suffer an amputation. Indigenous people are twice as likely, and Latinos are one and a half times more likely.

Another highlight of the sculpture is that it features an array of purposely selected adult-sized shoes. They are meant to loosely represent the skin tone of those most affected by unnecessary amputations.

In March 2023, Podimetrics CEO and co-founder Jon Bloom, M.D. made a poignant declaration regarding the devastating impact of unnecessary amputations due to complex diabetes. He asserted, “It’s time to turn our collective energy toward powering a new era of preventive care that puts Civil War medicine in the history books once and for all.”

This stirring message reinforces the significance behind the shoe sculpture and aligns with Podimetrics’ #CutCostsNotFeet. They both call for immediate action, better patient outcomes, and effective measures to reduce a costly health problem that is often overlooked. Over 37 million Americans are living with diabetes, and the cost of managing the disease is a staggering $327 billion annually. For those with diabetic foot ulcers, the financial burden is even higher, with care costs averaging around $58,000 per year. And if an amputation is required, the procedure alone can be as much as $100,000. This is particularly concerning given that a limb is lost every 3.5 minutes due to diabetes. In fact, the cost of treating diabetic foot ulcers is even greater than that of the five most expensive cancers—it exceeds $100 billion. Podimetrics is trying to help effectively cut down on these serious costs for one of the most expensive populations living with diabetes today. That’s because no one’s mobility — or life — should be compromised by preventable health problems. 

Want to learn more? Contact Podimetrics to learn how they can help those who provide, pay for, and manage care for patients with complex diabetes. Discover how you can make a difference with Podimetrics.