Debs Blog

Posted by -- April 10, 2011

Theres so much going on in the field of Orthotics and Prosthetics right now, its hard to know where to start. Ive recently returned from the annual conference of the AAOP – the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetist. This was a week packed with workshops, classes, lectures and exhibits. By the end of the conference my head was spinning with new information. One of the highlights of the conference was being inducted as a Fellow of the Academy. This is the highest level of recognition given by the Academy for professional and academic achievement, and I feel honored and humbled to join this distinguished group. The initials FAAOP after ones name and certification identifies an Academy Fellow.

Other conference highlights:

There are some interesting new prosthetic components on the market. Just as an example, there is a hydraulic foot and ankle for amputees that can make walking down inclines much easier. There is also a new way to have a vacuum assisted socket without the heavy pump.

For children who wear AFOs the Keeping Pace folks, who make those great extra depth shoes, have added a cute new sandal and a white sneaker just in time for summer. Both should be available soon.

In research, the trend in outcomes-based studies continues. Computer-controlled knee units, prosthetic foot selection and gait studies dominated the presentations.

Many studies provided good insights into predicting mobility levels for amputees based on the strength of specific muscle groups. Physical therapists interested in more detailed information should contact us.

Back In Vermont:

On the home front, I attended a health care reform forum at the State House in Montpelier this week. This was the third in a series of three forums where Vermonters were able to voice their support, concerns, questions or opposition to the upcoming initiative for a single-payor health care system in Vermont. The first two sessions, which I did not attend, were for business owners and consumers. This last one was for health care providers, many of whom are also small business owners. Though there seemed to be general consensus for reform and a single payor system, there were also many concerns about the lack of details as yet provided, what the effect would be on providers. Many providers spoke on behalf of their profession in the state of Vermont, voicing concerns about staying in business, being able to pay off Medical school loans, being able to recruit new doctors/dentists/nurses/etc to their practice/hospital/clinic, and so on. Many of those who spoke (in their two-minute time allotment) were quite eloquent. I was filled with pride and gratitude, seeing that we have so many dedicated, intelligent and thoughtful health professionals in this tiny state of ours, who are willing to venture into this unknown territory and take some risks in the best interests of the people of Vermont.

After the meeting I contacted all my colleagues who also own an Orthotic or Prosthetic practice in Vermont to suggest that we provide a consensus recommendation to the legislature on how prosthetics and orthotics should be managed (its a short list – there are only six practices in the whole state, with a combined total of about 10 practitioners). There was unanimous support for this, and we will begin meeting this week to compose a document. Our joint concern is that, with such a small group of professionals, the legislature will not have the time or understanding to address the specific needs of our patients or our businesses. Wish us luck.

Well, thats enough news for now. You should be outside enjoying the spring weather, and so should I.


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