Memphis VA Nurse Works to Save Life and Limb - Memphis VA Medical Center
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Memphis VA Medical Center

 

Memphis VA Nurse Works to Save Life and Limb

Memphis VA Nurse Works to Save Life and Limb

Maria Akpotu holding handheld telescopic expandable flexible lighted mirror

By Memphis VA Medical Center
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Maria Akpotu has been a Registered Nurse for over 40 years and currently works at the Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. While working at the facility, she started to research the trend of limb amputation in Veterans and found that, per the CDC, Veterans were four times more likely to have limb amputations than the general population. The risk was even higher for diabetic Veterans and those with mobility issues.

Akpotu says she believed that Veterans needed an easy to use tool that allows them to check their extremities daily. In that effort, Akpotu started project Comprehensive Diabetic Footcare Bundle. The goal is to help Veterans detect early changes in their feet and extremities so that they can report those changes promptly to get treatment to prevent loss of limbs. The project is expected to reduce the care cost from diabetic foot complications and reduce the number of associated hospital visits.

Handheld Telescopic Expandable Flexible Lighted Mirror

To find a solution, Akpotu discussed her plan with her son and daughter and asked them to help her find and develop a tool that will enable Veterans with mobility issues to monitor their limbs without having to bend over. With their assistance, she found what she was looking for. Akpotu purchased several handheld telescopic expandable flexible lighted mirrors. These mirrors allow patients with limited mobility to monitor their limbs without being in a compromising position. She also developed a simple education pamphlet to teach diabetic Veterans and staff proper self-care. “By putting this tool in the hands of Veterans and their families, we can give control of self-care to them,” said Akpotu. She added, “Early detection is key, and with this tool we can achieve a reduction in emotional, physical, and financial costs to the VA, Veterans and their families” She further stated, “I can  truthfully say that I have done everything in my power to provide my patients and their caregivers with the tools they need to educate, motivate and empower each other.”

Maria Akpotu using handheld telescopic expandable flexible lighted mirror

Implementation of the project has begun at the Memphis VA Medical Center, and Akpotu is currently seeking funding for her project through the VHA Innovators Network to expand it throughout the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).



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