What we can learn from Lou Brock’s leg amputation

What we can learn from Lou Brock’s leg amputation

Earlier this week, Baseball Hall of Fame member and National League stolen base record holder Lou Brock lost part of his left leg due to an infection related to diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association cites peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and nerve disease as contributing factors to foot ulcers and infections, which often cause amputations in diabetics.

“Diabetes can cause changes in the skin on the feet as well as nerve damage, which can impair sensation of feeling,” says Dr. Marcia Hauter, medical director for the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Individuals should visually inspect their feet and between their toes for blisters, cuts, red spots and swelling.”

Dr. Hauter also recommends sitting with feet up to keep blood flowing, applying lotion to the top and bottom of the feet (but not in between the toes), keeping legs uncrossed, wearing well-fitted shoes and seeing a doctor if a person experiences any changes to his or her feet.

Brock is one of over 20 million adults in the U.S. with diabetes, and a disproportionate number are blacks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s Diabetes Report Card indicated that 13.2 percent of non-Hispanic blacks 20 years old and older have been diagnosed with diabetes compared to 7.6 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Complications from diabetes can include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and, in Brock’s case, amputation. However, these complications appear to be better controlled than in the past.

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the incidence of amputation as a complication of diabetes decreased by 51.4 percent between 1990 and 2010.

Currently, Brock’s family has reported that he is recovering well, participating in therapy and being fitted for a prosthetic device.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images. 

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About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.