Five Questions for Saravanan Sundarakrishnan

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Saravanan Sundarakrishnan, CO, was born, raised, and educated in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, India. He says, "The very first week I spent in college doing my bachelors in prosthetics and orthotics...I knew that I was meant to do this-I was in the medical field seeing and helping patients, and at the same time using the engineering skills that I [had learned] from my dad." After completing his degree in 2003, Sundarakrishnan travelled to the United States to complete his residency and start his career. He says, "Getting used to the lifestyle and people wasn't difficult for me.... The biggest problem for me initially was the food, which I have overcome, as I have started liking the food here very much. I like traveling a lot, meeting different people, and getting to know their cultures and lifestyles." Sundarakrishnan recently joined the clinical staff at OrPro Prosthetics & Orthotics in Centerville, Ohio.

1. How have your education and career progressed?

I did my bachelor's in P&O at All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AIIPMR), Mumbai, which has the best P&O course in South Asia. I was honored with a gold medal upon graduation. After that, I worked with Otto Bock in India for two years. I started researching universities for post-grad and decided that the best path was to come to the U.S., since I believe it's still the leader in healthcare and I wanted the best possible education/experience. That's when I was selected to do my residency in orthotics at the University of Michigan (UM), Ann Arbor. After my residency, I worked at Hanger in Boardman, Ohio, for almost two years, and am now at OrPro Prosthetics & Orthotics in Centerville, Ohio.

2. What or who has motivated or inspired you in your professional pursuits?

The best thing that could have happened to me was to get selected to do my residency in orthotics at UM. I think I got the best all-around education and exposure to the various aspects of orthotics and patient treatment. Ammanath Peethambaran, MS, CO, FAAOP, the clinical head of orthotics at UM, motivated me to have thorough knowledge of what with patients, and he inspired me to someday contribute to the field as an educator. Joe Whiteside, LO, CO, the area practice manager at Hanger in Boardman, made me believe in myself and taught me how to change with the times and technological advances. Also, he had the answers to almost every question asked of him but would listen to new ideas-even from a student.

3. What are your personal and/or professional goals?

I want to do the best in whatever I do. My next immediate goal is to clear my prosthetics certification and get more exposure to prosthetics. My interest, though, is always going to be in pediatric orthotics.

4. What do you see in the future for O&P?

The future looks very bright, as the education system is changing and more and more students are showing interest in this field. Prosthetics has always been strong in researching newer technologies, but Im now seeing a lot of new projects and research in orthotics, which is awesome. We still to have to work hard in making sure that our field does not get exploited by people from other fields.

5. What are your priorities/goals when working with a patient?

When I first see a patient, I listen to them properly. Prescribing doctors sometimes get so busy that they are not specific about what the patient needs. I plan my treatment considering the global effect it will have on the patient, not just concentrating on a single problem. I always try to make sure that the patient is comfortable during the whole process and leaves the office with a smile and sense of satisfaction. I am very open-minded to technological advances and make sure that my patients get the latest and the best devices and care.