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Free prosthetics offered to Boston Marathon amputees

Posting in Technology

Of the 264 people injured in the blasts during the Boston Marathon, at least 14 people had to undergo amputations.

Last week, the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association -- a trade group representing makers of artificial limbs -- offered the initial prostheses not covered by insurance for those victims. Reuters reports.

It was announced under the name Coalition to Walk & Run Again. “As an industry, we would not want to see these people victimized twice,” says Tom Fise, the association’s executive director.

Costs for a below-knee device average $8,000 to $12,000 each and $40,000 to $60,000 for above-knee prosthetics.

The association's offer covers only a portion of expected costs for amputees: victims who lost both legs could face medical bills of $450,000 over the next five years, according to a Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs study.

The association estimates that at least half the Boston Marathon amputees lack enough insurance to cover their prosthetic costs as some policies provide as little as $1,000 per device or only provide one artificial limb. Many prosthetics need replacing every five to seven years.

"Many of these patients even today don't know what their insurance has in store for them, nor do we,” Fise says, “so the program is about making sure the decisions to restore mobility to these patients are made as independent as we can from any considerations of what the insurance limitations may be."

The Coalition will use its network of companies to provide for the prosthetic and orthotic needs of any Boston Marathon bombing victim (excluding physician and hospital costs).

Additionally, a relief group called One Fund has brought in $27.7 million in donations that they’ve promised to pay out to victims. Country singer Kenny Chesney’s “Spread the Love” fund will use proceeds from sales of that single to help buy prosthetics and provide other care to amputees.

[press release via Reuters]

Image by Damian Gadal via Flickr

— By on May 6, 2013, 8:30 AM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure