Temitope Elizabeth Adebayo and Benita Jebackumar, two second-year students at the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine (TUSPM), have seen the impact of diabetes and amputation firsthand in their families. Adebayo recalls losing a family member to diabetes and amputation. Jebackumar says her great grandmother lost a leg due to diabetic gangrene and her grandmother passed away after a combination of osteomyelitis and vascular complications.
Now Adebayo and Jebackumar are taking on leadership roles in the limb preservation battle, serving as President and Vice-President, respectively, with the new student chapter of the American Limb Preservation Society (ALPS) at TUSPM. For Adebayo and Jebackumar, prevention is personal and essential to saving lives.
“Having a multigenerational family history affected by limb loss, the mission that ALPS represents is very close to my heart,” explains Jebackumar. “I plan to use my training to prevent the same story from occurring with my own mother.”
“I was motivated to initiate an ALPS student chapter by what ALPS stands for,” says Adebayo. “ALPS’ mission is to eliminate preventable amputations over the next generation and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85 percent of all non-traumatic lower extremity amputations are preventable. I consider it a privilege to be an advocate for limb preservation.”
While acknowledging that a “huge part of medicine is focused on therapy/treatment,” Adebayo says prevention has been a primary driver for her interest in limb salvage. Similarly, Jebackumar notes her primary career goal is to work alongside vascular surgeons to prevent issues such as diabetic gangrene, chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI) and limb amputations.
The ALPS Student Chapter at TUSPM is already off to a promising start with approximately 50 members. Adebayo and Jebackumar believe the numbers will continue to increase after holding a recent interest meeting for fellow students seeking to learn more about ALPS.
Adebayo says the main goal for the student chapter is to provide fellow students with early exposure to limb preservation through mentorship, workshops, and lectures.
“The current students will one day be the leaders and teachers of our profession,” maintains Adebayo. “It is important that we as students understand what ALPS is doing so we can carry it on for podiatry.”
Jebackumar also emphasizes the development and maintenance of interdisciplinary alliances.
“As a long-term goal, I would love to see ALPS at Temple University’s School of Podiatric Medicine create an interdisciplinary collaboration between our school and Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine,” suggests Jebackumar. “This would aid to mirror the integrative population of other health-care providers and physicians that ALPS has on a national level.”
What advice would Adebayo and Jebackumar suggest to students at other colleges who may be interested in forming an ALPS student chapter?
“My advice would be to go for it if you have the passion for it. Passion is the first thing you need to initiate anything at all,” says Adebayo. “Reach out to schools that have an ALPS student chapter, see what kinds of things they do and (whether there could be) a possible collaboration. I, myself, am open to giving guidance and helping in any way I can. …
ALPS is doing good work in our profession and deserves to be in every podiatry school. They are very supportive of student chapters and continue to grow in various ways.”
Jebackumar recalls the meticulous selection of a diligent executive board for the student chapter and joining forces with Andrew J. Meyr, DPM, FACFAS, who serves at the chapter’s faculty advisor. She advises students to jump in feet first.
“Preventative medicine is the future of health care and I strongly urge those interested to immerse themselves in it without hesitation,” emphasizes Jebackumar.