Two years ago when the British Medical Journal award, considered as the 'Oscars of Medicine', was given to project 'kNOw diabetes', not many knew about Dr. G. Vijayakumar.
Vijayakumar was the brain behind the project, a multi-faceted campaign for primary prevention of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases, which garnered global attention.
Now, Dr. Vijaykumar is known for saving many diabetics with foot ulcers from amputation.
Balagopalan Pillai, a retired government employee and a diabetic, would vouch for that.
He was about to undergo amputation for the second time when he started treatment with Dr. Vijaykumar. Weeks later, ulcer of his feet was completely cured.
"Had I known about him before, I could have saved my little toe," Pillai ruefully recalls.
While other hospitals had prescribed amputation, how did Vijayakumar help patients avoid that?
"There are certain aspects, which diabetic patients usually neglect, which in turn worsen the condition of the feet and lead to amputation,” he says.
If those issues are addressed amputation can be avoided, says Dr. G. Vijayakumar, who founded Medical Trust Hospital and Diabetes Care Centre at Kulanada in Pathanamthitta.
Now, this is the first hospital in Kerala to focus on podiatry, a branch of medicine that deals with diagnosis and cure of disorders in the lower portion of the leg.
According to Dr. Vijaykumar, diabetic foot-care is not given due importance in Kerala.
However, as the number of lifestyle diseases increases, diabetes being the primary one, the foot ulcers related to it are also on the rise. That is the reason why he chose foot as his area of specialization.
“I don’t think if there is any other place in Kerala where foot ulcers are so successfully treated,” says Ravindran, a patient who is in the final stages of recuperation.
However, amputation is difficult to do away with in patients with chronic peripheral vascular disease, an ailment which blocks blood circulation to the affected part of the feet.
"We ensure that patients get full rest, receive regular course of antibiotics and other medicines, get rid of dead tissues near the wound and get other routine foot-care measures,” said Dr. Sreehari, another physician with the hospital.
According to him only with such coordinated efforts can a patient be fully cured to avoid amputation.
Like, Balagopalan Pillai and Ravindran, this center for diabetic foot care should definitely bring cheer to patients with similar illnesses.