A study by the Korean Diabetes Association compared walking outcomes in people whose transtibial amputations were caused by diabetes compared to those whose amputations were not diabetes-related and found that short-term walking outcomes were poor among those with diabetes compared to those without.

Forty-four people with unilateral transtibial amputations and diabetes (n = 18) and without diabetes (n = 26) were included in the retrospective study.

Three months after gait training with a prosthesis, only 11.1 percent of participants with diabetes were capable of independent outdoor walking without a cane; 16.7 percent were capable of independent indoor walking without a cane; and 38.9 percent and 50 percent could walk outdoor and indoor with a cane, respectively.

However, 80.8 percent and 92.3 percent of participants without diabetes were capable of independent outdoor and indoor walking without cane, respectively.

The researchers pointed out that limitations of the study should be considered. Because it was a retrospective study, they could not evaluate muscle strength, proprioception, cognitive function, depression, or the effect of renal dysfunction to assess the reasons for the different walking outcomes between groups.

They say that the results may be useful for development of specific rehabilitation strategies after lower-limb amputation.

The open-access study is published in the Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.