Nurses, PTs Walk the Talk

If you want to know your chances of being able to walk after lower-limb amputation, don’t just get your doctor’s opinion. Ask your nurse practitioner or physical therapist, too. They might give you more accurate assessments.

So says a paper published early this year in the British Journal of Surgery (BJS). The authors asked doctors and allied health professionals to evaluate patients scheduled for amputation and predict a range of post-amputation outcomes, including whether the individual would be walking within a year. The large study encompassed 537 patients and predictions from more than 2,200 health professionals.

When the researchers documented the patients’ actual ambulation status 12 months later, they found that vascular nurse practitioners and physical therapists made more accurate forecasts than surgeons and medical trainees. The allied health practitioners also outperformed two widely used prediction tools that use underlying health indicators to assess patients’ likelihood of walking.

The finding highlights the value of multidisciplinary care, the authors wrote. It also points toward the wide range of inputs—including hard-to-measure factors such as as motivation, family/community support, and care-team cohesion—that can influence an individual’s ability to achieve ambulation. 

The full study appears in the February 2024 issue of the BJS. Find it at academic.oup.com/bjsopen.

Top image: amorn/stock.adobe.com

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