From the Editor

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Sometimes the winds of change seem more like a hurricane.

As discussed later in this issue, a legislative and regulatory storm is centering around questions of who is a "qualified provider" and "will physical/occupational therapists gain direct access to patients without a physician referral--plus practice O&P?"

How will all this change the face of O&P? Will there be sweeping changes--or will things remain basically the same?

PTs/OTs have already been practicing orthotics in various ways, and, as has been noted, anyone can practice O&P in states without licensure. A practitioner pointed out that to practice O&P more extensively, PTs/OTs would have to invest in tools and equipment, plus many PTs and OTs frankly admit they don't feel qualified to practice prosthetics and more complex orthotics--just as many certified/licensed orthotists say that pedorthists do a better job with foot orthotics. Some practitioners have pursued dual prosthetic/orthotic and physical therapy certification.

What does the future hold? Time will tell, but even if they are squaring off on the legislative front, orthotists/prosthetists and PTs/OTs clinically go together like socks and shoes. Both disciplines fill complementary needs for the best patient outcomes. And isn't that what it's all about?

As Fran Varner-Jenkins, Fillauer, said, "Some of us who aren't practitioners don't always get to see the look on a patient's face when they first put on a prosthesis or orthosis. The other day I did, and the joy on his face just warmed my heart. That's what we're really about. Sometimes we lose track of that. But if we take care of patients, they will take care of us. What a wonderful industry we're in!"

As always, our readers' viewpoints on these and other issues are welcome.