Academy Meeting Focuses on Best, Latest in O&P

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By Miki Fairley
Dudley Childress, PhD, delivers the keynote address.
Dudley Childress, PhD, delivers the keynote address.

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire" -William Butler Yeats

This statement, quoted by Don Katz, CO, FAAOP, aptly sums up the purpose and accomplishments of one of the O&P community's most eagerly awaited meetings: the Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP).

About 1,450 attendees and 162 exhibitors were drawn to the 29th annual event March 19-22 in San Diego, California. Fifty-five attendees hailed from 12 different countries, including 27 from Canada. Heightened national security kept many Latin American practitioners from obtaining a visa in time to attend: only four were able to come, as compared with 46 last year, according to the Academy.

Academy Faces Challenges

Three major issues continue to be a challenge, said Academy President Frank H. Bostock MBA, CO, FAAOP, as he welcomed attendees. He identified them as 1) competitive bidding, which is still on track in Congress; 2) the Negotiated Rulemaking (NegReg) Committee's efforts as it works to reach consensus on who is a "qualified provider" of O&P services; and 3) funding for Project Quantum Leap. "Project Quantum Leap (PQL) is the most important initiative in the Academy's 30-year history," he declared. Regarding NegReg, he noted that while many of the organizations represented seem to be centered on patient care, some focus on financial interests. "The Academy can't agree to anything that would compromise patient care," he stressed.

"The ultimate purpose of a professional association is to build a knowledge base," said Don Katz, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Dallas, as he provided an overview of the Academy's Clinical Standards of Practice (CSOP) conferences. Katz provided a detailed preliminary report on the first CSOP consensus conference in February 2002, which discussed "Orthotic Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis and Scheuermann's Kyphosis."

Dennis E. Clark, CPO (right), receives the Distinguished Practitioner Award from Academy President Frank H. Bostock, MBA, CO, FAAOP.
Dennis E. Clark, CPO (right), receives the Distinguished Practitioner Award from Academy President Frank H. Bostock, MBA, CO, FAAOP.

The purpose of a consensus conference is to define the current status of patient care, establish points of consensus in treatment, and to define research priorities, Katz said.

The next consensus conference, scheduled for late May 2004 in Chicago, Illinois, will focus on "Post-Operative Amputation Care."

Childress Discusses Shape of O&P

What identifies a profession? In his talk on "The Shape of the O&P Profession," keynote speaker Dudley Childress, PhD, listed three attributes of a profession: 1) skills or "know-how," 2) its body of knowledge, and 3) its "indwelling ethic." Childress, who has received many awards during a long and illustrious career, is the director of the Northwestern Engineering Research program in Prosthetics and Orthotics and a professor of Biomedical Engineering and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University, Chicago.

Samuel E. Hamontree, CP (right), receives the Titus Ferguson Award for lifetime achievement from Frank Bostock.
Samuel E. Hamontree, CP (right), receives the Titus Ferguson Award for lifetime achievement from Frank Bostock.

Ethical standards are imparted to upcoming generations by example, he noted, with integrity being the most important quality in a profession.

"The profession has been shaped by those who have preceded us," he continued, as he paid homage to a roll call of distinguished pioneers in O&P and rehabilitation. "These pioneers of O&P established a strong indwelling ethic," Childress said. Quoting William Faulkner, he said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Discussing the interaction between scientists and engineers, Childress noted that scientists seek knowledge, and engineers, along with O&P professionals, look for practical applications of knowledge.

Childress also discussed research on the "roll-over shape" for prosthetic feet, the "squirt shape" for sockets, and dilatency sand casting.

James Campbell, PhD, CO, was honored for his accomplishments as editor-in-chief of the Academy's Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics (JPO). As he steps down, taking the helm of the publication is Jeff Nemeth, CPO, FAAOP.

High School Students Learn About O&P

T. Walley Williams, Liberating Technologies Inc., demonstrates a myoelectric hand to the students.
T. Walley Williams, Liberating Technologies Inc., demonstrates a myoelectric hand to the students.

To raise awareness of O&P as a career choice, the Academy invited 100 high school students from the San Diego area to visit the meeting. After hearing a short presentation about the orthotic and prosthetic profession from Kel Bergmann, CPO, SCOPe Orthotics & Prosthetics Inc., and a description of the O&P program at California State University-Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) from Scott Hornbeak, CPO, FAAOP, program director, the students were paired with O&P students from CSUDH and the University of Washington, Seattle. Together they toured the exhibit hall to see the latest technologies firsthand.

Jim Chea, a University of Washington student, was impressed by the students' astute questions, noted Julie Hayes, the Academy's director of Development and Communications: "They were extremely interested in learning more about how the orthotic or prosthetic device worked as a substitute for an individual's natural function when walking, jumping, or running. Although the high-tech look of some components was appealing, they were very intrigued by the cosmetic covering and how realistic the artificial devices could appear."

Bostock announced National O&P Awareness Week to begin in 2004. The Academy has not named a specific week, preferring to allow local practitioners to tie the week in with related existing events in their area, such as Disability Awareness Month, National Rehabilitation Week, and National Job Shadowing Day. Materials for the special week include a poster, career brochures, instructions on how practitioners can participate in the week, sample activities, and tips on involving students from local high schools. Career and other information also is included on a website, www.opcareers.org

Sessions Stimulate Thought

The meeting featured an abundance of symposia, instructional courses, professional development sessions, technical workshops, free papers, and a dynamic technician program on Saturday. "Society Select" presentations were developed by the Academy societies to focus on current issues relating to their areas of interest. Also presented were certificate modules which compose the Certificate Programs for Professional Development leading to becoming a Fellow of the Academy. Twenty-eight Fellows were inducted at this year's meeting.

"Business Management Versus Patient Management," a provocative session chaired by Dennis Clark, CPO, examined a series of scenarios involving difficult decisions. The audience voted on their choices of possible decisions, which also were discussed by a panel composed of David Schultz, CPO; Terry Supan, CPO, FAAOP; and Steven Whiteside, CO, FAAOP. Lively discussions resulted.

Modern body-powered technology provides numerous options for persons with hand and arm loss, noted Robert Radocy in an Upper-Limb Society Select session.

The Carlyle formula and other body proportion guidelines useful in designing prosthetic and orthotic devices have developed from both artists and engineers, according to a free paper by Gerald E. Stark Jr., BSME, CP, FAAOP. The artist uses aesthetically acceptable guidelines, while the engineer uses anthropometrics, the study of human dimensions, to create devices for human use. Stark pointed out that both have their value when creating devices, such as prostheses, that must function, yet remain appealing with the human form.

With deep regrets, Judy, Marti and I were not able to attend this year's conference due to the "worst blizzard Colorado's seen in 90 years!" Who expected we'd get over three feet of snow or that the airport would be closed for two days? We missed all of you. We look forward to seeing you at other meetings throughout the year!
Tonja Randolph, president, Western Media LLC.