U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) believes more government funding is needed to prevent a brain drain in the field of prosthetics. Durbin said the $589 million he inserted into the appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will allow both veterans and everyday citizens better access to the latest in orthotics and artificial limbs. Without those funds, Durbin claimed young doctors would pick other specialties.
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“We worry because we’re reaching a point where many people currently in the field are near retirement,” Durbin said. “And the obvious question is will we have enough people to take care of this growing number of veterans…as well as our general population?” Durbin said there are 40,000 veterans who have lost limbs that are treated by the VA every year, but there are only 7,100 prosthetics specialists in all of the United States. Approximately 150 new specialists graduate from medical school each year—one-third of them from the Northwestern University prosthetics program, which Durbin toured Tuesday.