Brooke Artesi, CPO/LPO
Brooke Artesi, CPO/LPO, and
her son Nicco hiking.
Brooke Artesi, CPO/LPO, has worked in the O&P profession since 2002. Her experience in the field began when she lost her right leg in a train accident in 1994. Despite this tragedy, she has pushed herself to accomplish her goals while being an inspiration to others. Brooke entered the profession as a technician and continued her education to become a practitioner. She is an ABC-certified prosthetist, mastectomy and orthotic fitter, and is a BOC-certified orthotist. With all of these skills, she opened her own practice, Sunshine Prosthetics and Orthotics, in New Jersey.
Brooke participates as an Adult Amputee Mentor in Camp No Limits twice a year. She also competes at the annual Extremity Games in rock climbing and kayaking. In her free time, Brooke enjoys hiking with her son, Nicco, and is working toward her goal of hiking all 2,814 miles of the Appalachian Trail! We recently caught up with her to ask her some questions.
How long have you been in the profession?
I began working in the prosthetic and orthotic industry in 2002 as a prosthetic and orthotic technician. Over the years, I completed my O&P education while working full-time and I earned practitioner certification in the profession.
What is your education background (college through certification)?
I received an associate's degree in fine arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 1999. In 2002, I received a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, majoring in biology and minoring in sculpture.
I was certified by ABC in pedorthics in 2002 and by BOC in orthotics in 2004. In 2006 I became ABC-certified as an orthotic and mastectomy fitter. Finally, I was certified by ABC as a prosthetist in 2011, and as an orthotist in 2015.
Why did you choose this profession?
I chose prosthetics and orthotics because back in 1994, I was involved in a serious train accident resulting in the amputation of my right leg. From that point forward, my life changed. Prosthetics, in particular, became an everyday part of my life.
What has changed most about the field since you first became a practitioner?
The biggest change in our field has been technology. The ability to scan residual limbs and/or prosthetic limbs and transmit those scans to central fabrication saves an incredible amount of time. This allows practitioners to see more patients, as well as to provide a higher quality of patient care.
What has been most satisfying about your decision to go into the field?
I have treated patients who have come to me in a state of hopelessness. Many are new amputees or amputees who have not had a good experience elsewhere. Being an amputee myself, I totally understand their situation. I work extremely hard with each patient to ensure each one becomes a success story. Seeing a patient come into my practice in a wheel chair, working with the patient to ensure the fabrication of a well-fitting, state-of-the-art prosthesis, and watching the patient walk, is incredibly satisfying and rewarding.
What has been the most frustrating?
It is extremely frustrating when I am faced with a non-compliant patient. There are situations in which, despite all of my efforts, the patient will not be motivated and will not follow instructions or suggestions. The patient's progress will be impeded as a result of his or her non-compliance. It's frustrating to try to help someone who doesn't want to be helped.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of starting my own practice, Sunshine Prosthetics & Orthotics. It was hard work but I always kept remembering my favorite inspirational quote: Why build someone else's dream when you can build your own?
If you were speaking to high school or college students, what would you say to encourage them to choose this profession?
I would begin by telling the students my personal story of how I became an amputee and why that dramatically impacted my career choice. I would strongly advise students to shadow a O&P professional: Spend time in a O&P laboratory, get your hands dirty fabricating orthotic and prosthetic devices, see firsthand how this field encourages creativity, nurtures talent, and provides never-ending rewards to practitioners.
How has your Academy membership been valuable to you?
My membership has been incredibly instrumental in my success. The networking at the national and local shows has provided me the contacts I have made. It's all been a part of why I have been successful. I attend the Women in Orthotics & Prosthetics reception each year, take advantage of all the educational classes the Academy offers, and learn so much at every show.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I am an adult amputee mentor at Camp No Limits at least twice a year. I volunteer my time at the camps and work with amputees. I also compete each year at the Extremity Games, participating in rock climbing and kayaking events.
In addition, each Tuesday I participate in a Mommy and Me Hiking Program, taking my two-year-old son Nicco on planned hikes. This time with my son is very special and rewarding. Not only does it give me special time with Nicco but it gives me an opportunity to wind down a bit from the hectic, day-to-day activities of my Sunshine P&O practice.
What's one thing that people in the O&P industry would be surprised to know about you?
I recently completed a 24-mile endurance hike. My lifetime goal is to hike the entire 2,814 miles of the Appalachian Trail.