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Student Newsletter, September 2014
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Student News
Nikta Pirouz

My story: My path to a Thranhardt lecture
Nikta Pirouz, CPO

As an undergraduate psychology student at the Georgia Institute of Technology I spent many hours in research labs and I did not particularly enjoy those hours. My experience with research was highly technical, theoretical, and frankly, seemed to exist in a realm that had little to do with real life. When I found out about the MSPO program at Georgia Tech, I was looking forward to applying my analytical and critical thinking skills to something more meaningful: Human mobility. What could be a more profound contribution to an individual’s quality of life?

However, I soon realized the value of research as many of my questions in class had no concrete answers. The evidence we needed to find those answers simply did not exist. With this new perspective and appreciation of research, I completed my capstone project by examining the neural activation of upper-limb amputees when using a prosthesis. I was able to share this study as a poster during the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists 36th Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium. This experience and the interest in my work shown by seasoned clinicians solidified for me how crucial research is to clinical care. During my residency at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, I knew I wanted to contribute to the field by performing even more research.

After spending time in the myelomengingocele clinic at Lurie Children's Hospital, I wanted to explore issues related to that population and how orthotic interventions could improve their quality of life. I teamed up with Bryan Malas, CO, and Tasos Karakostas, DPT, to design a study that explored the effects of AFOs on the ability of patients to walk while they counted. If AFOs can make walking easier, then maybe they can make performing tasks while patients are walking easier as well.

Once I completed my residency research project, my mentors encouraged me to submit an abstract to the Academy to be considered for a free paper presentation. A few months later I was shocked to find out I had been selected to be a Thranhardt lecturer! I was thrilled and more than a little nervous. Over the next few months I worked to finalize my presentation and before I knew it, it was time to step up to the podium and share three years of work with my colleagues. I was so honored to be able to impart what I had learned after only four years in the field and humbled by all of the positive and encouraging comments and questions I received from my peers. Presenting at the Academy Annual Meeting has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career so far because I was able to make many connections with individuals as well as become part of our unique O&P community.

Recipients of the OPERF/ABC Student Awards for Academic Achievement Awards to be announced in December

OPERF will announce in December the recipients of the OPERF/ABC Student Awards for Academic Achievement. Fifteen students applied this year. The Student Awards for Academic Achievement support O&P students enrolled in CAAHEP-accredited master’s programs who have completed at least one semester toward their degree. Each year the award provides up to 10 eligible students a $1,000 cash award. Visit for other funding opportunities.

Students can attend the upcoming Academy One-Day Seminars at a discounted rate

The Academy will hold two One-Day Seminars in Chicago on Friday, November 13, and Saturday, November 14. This year’s seminars are "Clinical Applications of Gait Assessment" and "Orthotic Management of Cerebral Palsy." Students are welcome to attend at a significantly reduced rate—$95 per day. To take advantage of the savings, call the Academy at (202) 380-3663.

The Academy has plenty to offer students at the 2016 Annual Meeting in Orlando

Be sure to save the date, because Academy student members who attend the 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium, March 9 – 12, 2016, will find an array of programs geared toward their needs.

High School Awareness Program
Local high school students will spend a day at the meeting to learn about O&P career opportunities, get hands-on demonstrations of O&P technology, and tour the exhibit hall. The Academy recruits O&P student volunteers to answer questions and accompany the students as they explore the profession. Academy student members who volunteer can attend the Annual Meeting for just $85.

Student Interview Day
Prospective O&P residents and representatives from residency sites across the nation will meet to find their ideal matches. This event offers second-year graduate students and NCOPE-accredited residency site directors an efficient, cost-effective way to meet face to face. Although there is no additional charge to participate, separate registration will be required.

Are you already a resident? Ask your site director to participate! Contact the Academy at (202) 380-3663 for details.

Residency Networking Session
During this popular event, O&P students will network with representatives from NCOPE, ABC, BOC, and residency sites to hear insights on the residency process, pursuit of certification, resident directed study reports, and more.

Women in Orthotics and Prosthetics Reception
Learn about how to recruit and support women in O&P at this wine and cheese event open to all.

O&P Student Social
This event—open only to students, residents, and educators—offers an informal networking opportunity and light refreshments.

Education session on interviewing and resume writing
Get the tips you need to succeed in your career.

Mark your calendars now and plan to be in Orlando on March 9 – 12, 2016!

Connect with the Academy on Twitter and Facebook

Follow the Academy on Twitter and Facebook as we expand our social media presence to stay in even closer contact with the members who make our organization great. We also have a Facebook devoted exclusively to students and residents. Join us there by visiting

The Academy has redesigned, our career information website, and established corresponding Twitter and Facebook accounts for those interested in joining the profession. Share these sites with all the kids who want to follow in your footsteps and get into O&P. And remember… sharing your O&P experience at career days or by speaking to elementary, middle, and high school students will count toward the service requirement to become a Fellow of the Academy.

Have something to say? Share it with Student News

The Academy welcomes columns from O&P students, residents, and educators to publish in future editions of Student News. Possible topics include:

   •  Your experience at Academy meetings and events
   •  Photographs
   •  Updates on what's happening at your school
   •  Current research
   •  Student volunteer initiatives
   •  Volunteer opportunities
   •  Personal stories of success
   •  Reflections on your experience in O&P

Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis. Please include a headshot of yourself with your contributions.

Information included in Student News from individuals or organizations other than the Academy represent the views of the individuals or the organizations and are not necessarily those of the Academy.

To learn more, contact the Academy at (202) 380-3663. You may also email your column to



The American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 760
Bethesda, MD 20814
(202) 380-3663