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Student Newsletter, October 2016
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Student NEWS
Fall 2016

Deadline approaching for student poster presentations

Students should submit their Academy Annual Meeting (Chicago, March 1 – 4, 2017) poster abstracts online by the December 1, 2016 deadline. Student posters can offer solutions to common problems, patient/practice management techniques, innovative uses of technology, current research findings, and more. Visit for details.

Overview of accredited O&P education programs

By Melissa Burner, Eastern Michigan University, MSPO 2013

One of the most inspiring and distinguishing qualities about O&P is that everyone tackles problems a bit differently. There is usually a systematic and objective approach in deciding what to do for our patients, but there is also freedom within that framework to be creative with our design and component selection. This allows practitioners to exercise their ingenuity, but it can also make the learning process a lot more confusing: you have to master the science before you can cultivate the art!

Meeting and talking with other students showed me just how much variety there is in the O&P profession, both in the people involved in the profession and the methods used to educate students. The Academy Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium is a fantastic way to meet students in other programs. To you a feel for where everyone is coming from, here is a run-down of all the currently accredited O&P master’s programs in the United States:

  • Alabama State University, Montgomery AL
  • Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX
  • California State University Dominguez Hills, Los Alamitos CA
  • Concordia University, St. Paul MN
  • Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti MI
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA
  • Loma Linda University, Loma Linda CA
  • Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center, Chicago IL
  • University of Hartford, West Hartford CT
  • University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas TX
  • University of Washington, Seattle WA


Stay in touch with everyone and share your thoughts! Just as in genetics, cross-pollination of knowledge and disciplines leads to the greatest diversity of ideas. Join the Academy student Facebook page:


University of Hartford’s combined BS/MSPO: The hidden value

By Alicia Tripoli, University of Hartford, MSPO 2017

For many high school seniors, deciding what field to study or where they want to be in five years can be agonizing. Fortunately, for the few who find their way into orthotics and prosthetics, the University of Hartford offers a combined BS/MSPO program. This accelerated program provides its pre-prosthetics and -orthotics students (PRPOs) many benefits that can set them apart from incoming master of science students (MSPOs).

As long as a PRPO student maintains a minimum grade point average of 3.2, he or she can start the master of science program the summer following the completion of their third year. PRPOs graduate with a bachelor of science in health science after completing the first two semesters of the master’s program. They then continue with their studies and ultimately graduate after a total of five years. Besides the obvious benefit of saving a year, there are several other invaluable perks to the accelerated program.

The biggest and most valuable resource available to PRPO students is having an advisor throughout their entire five-year process. Through the advisor-student relationship, students can identify their strengths and weaknesses, get help choosing the most appropriate class schedule, and form a close-knit relationship that can last for years after the program is completed. Similarly, PRPOs take a handful of classes that are taught by the O&P faculty during their undergraduate studies. Getting to know the faculty members can increase the likelihood for success in the graduate program. Undergraduate students also can join the Prosthetics and Orthotics Student Association (POSA). POSA is an undergraduate club that meets monthly to bring together O&P students from different graduating classes. Other advantages include a mentoring program and putting together O&P-related events each semester. In the past, POSA has welcomed speakers such as Cameron Clapp, challenged AMP1 to basketball games and helped to organize and run fundraisers for Camp No Limits.

By joining the University of Hartford’s combined BS/MSPO program, students can take advantage of many perks that include, but are certainly not limited to:, having a long-term advisor, developing a relationship with faculty, and getting involved with POSA. This allows O&P students to thrive during their graduate program and residency by receiving a top-notch education in less time. 

Why Academy involvement is important to me

By Heather Willets, Northwestern University, MSPO 2017

One of the earliest pieces of advice that I received when I chose to pursue an education in prosthetics and orthotics was to also pursue engagement in the Academy. In my earliest days as a prospective graduate student, my involvement consisted of reading all that I could regarding the role of the Academy, who ran it, and what opportunities existed for members at the student, resident, and clinician level. I was introduced to the Online Learning Center (OLC) through my master’s program and I attended my first Academy Annual Meeting shortly thereafter.

Fast forward to today, and I am a delegate on the Academy Student/Resident Committee representing Northwestern University. I also volunteer in one of the scientific societies as a student scientific liaison. Through these experiences I have learned so much about myself and our profession—although the most important lesson is this: Everyone has something to offer. Whether it is the prosthetic user at a trade show describing to you why they prefer one suspension over another, a fellow O&P student, or a well-known researcher in the field, there is something to be learned most everywhere you look. And the truly extraordinary thing about our profession is that nearly everyone is eager to help you if you are willing to learn.

For me, the Academy represents growth through awareness, education, and collaboration. This organization is comprised of an outstanding group of individuals— nearly all of them volunteers—who are committed to furthering our field. I am constantly humbled by the encouragement and support of the people I have connected with through the Academy. My goals for the immediate future are to be a successful resident and innovative clinician. With a foundation rooted in the principles of the Academy, I look forward to giving back to our profession as so many have done before me.

Technological advances in outcome measures: Gait lab experience inspires pursuit of evidence based practice

By Lonnica Johnson, California State University (Dominguez Hills), MSPO 2017

Lonnica Johnson

Within the last five years, technological advances have spread like wildfire  through the O&P field. It seems like much of the research has been primarily focused on the development of high-tech, high-dollar prosthetic devices…until now.

Anatomical Engineering, Inc. directed its technological expertise toward outcome measures to develop GaitKeeper, a pioneering system that collects gait data. With the spread of advanced devices coming to market recently, the creators of GaitKeeper chose to focus specifically on outcome measures because they realized how helpful accessible technology could be for the documentation and reimbursement side of an O&P business. Wilson Steele, one of the creators, explained, “My experience working in a hospital showed how valuable gait analysis can be—but most O&P clinics cannot afford the cost, in capital or manpower, for a traditional gait lab.” GaitKeeper provides a feasible means for practitioners to measure gait parameters without investing in a full-scale lab.

Johnson assembles FFS units on a prosthetic patient before performing the outcome measure “Multi-Speed Level Ground Walking.”

This software system uses cameras, foot force sensors (FFS), and markerless 3-D MotionCapture software to record and analyze patients’ gait. Anatomical Engineering’s goal is to provide easy and affordable integration of outcome measures into the daily workflow, while still driving and promoting evidence-based practice. The recordings’ results can provide quantified proof of patient progress and functional ability through the automatically generated reports this system offers.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work with GaitKeeper at Anatomical Engineering’s beta test site, Human Designs Prosthetics & Orthotics, in California. What I’ve found most impressive is that they’ve managed to combine the precision of motion-capture software with the practicality of simple outcome measures. As a student, I’ve used numerous outcome measures with patient models but always questioned the reliability of the standard stopwatch, yardstick, and three-trial averages. On the other hand, I’ve also experienced the long-winded assembly and data processing of high-end gait labs. GaitKeeper combines the best of both worlds. It’s a reliable and valid tool that can be incorporated into your daily practice.

If a new gait lab with advanced technology isn’t attainable for your practice, GaitKeeper is worth considering. Outcome measures are becoming a necessary part of patient care. They can improve our efforts by providing quantifiable proof of progress to the practitioner, physician, third-party payers, and most importantly, the patients themselves. After hearing about the importance of outcome measures throughout the entirety of my education, this experience has shown me a real-life example of how technological advantages in outcome measures truly can improve patient care.

2017 Academy Annual Meeting in Chicago: Volunteer and save on registration

The Academy is pleased to offer its student members the opportunity to save money on your registration when you volunteer during our High School Awareness Day event, scheduled for Friday, March 3, 2017, from 9:30 AM – Noon. As we have in the past, we will invite high school students from the Chicago area to join us at the conference to learn more about the O&P profession.

The day will begin with brief introductions and presentations, after which we will break into small groups for some hands-on activities. You’ll work with the high school students in these groups to do some handheld scanning, walk on "prosthetic feet," pick up objects with a myoelectric hand, and try on some orthoses. Once this part of the program is complete, you’ll be paired with a high school student to answer questions about O&P education programs and other career-related issues, and give advice on getting into school. You will then guide the high school student through the Exhibit Hall, giving them a glimpse at O&P and its latest technologies.

Regular registration for O&P student members of the Academy is $260. If you volunteer to help on Awareness Day, you can register for just $95. That’s a savings of $165.

You should complete your own registration form, available on our website at Your school director may collect your payment and submit all the registrations from your school to the Academy in one package. You can also register online using the code “SCHOOL.”

Special events for students

The Academy has designed several other events at the Annual Meeting in Chicago with you in mind.

Residency Networking Session, Thursday, March 2, 6:30 – 7:45 PM

O&P students won’t want to miss this informative networking session! During this program, students will meet with representatives from the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) to learn about the residency process. Representatives from the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC) will discuss the post-residency steps to becoming certified. Residency directors from a variety of O&P facilities will provide insight on what students should look for in a residency site.

O&P Student Social, Thursday, March 3, 7:45 – 8:45 PM
Immediately following the Residency Networking Session, the Academy invites all O&P students, residents, and educators to an informal networking session. Light refreshments will be served courtesy of ABC. 

Women in Orthotics & Prosthetics Reception, Friday, March 3, 6:30 – 7:30 PM
During this wine and cheese reception, the Student/Resident Committee will discuss the Academy mentoring program and how you can get involved. This reception is open to all students (men and women!). The Academy thanks Townsend Design for its generous sponsorship of this event. Be sure to visit Townsend in the Exhibit Hall while you’re in Chicago.

Chicago is the place to be!

There are plenty of opportunities to learn, share, connect, and network during the 43rd Academy annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium. We hope you will take advantage of everything this meeting affords and we look forward to seeing you in Chicago. Should you have questions, please contact Emily Ferrin via email at


Got 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:

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

  Please include a headshot of yourself with your contributions.

To learn more, contact Emily Ferrin by phone at (202) 380-3663 or by email at You may also email your column to



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