AOPA Meeting Draws Crowd Despite Hurricanes

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Despite the spate of battering hurricanes, tropical storms, and concern of more possible attacks from the elements, the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) 2004 National Assembly drew a sizable attendance. Held in Hollywood, Florida, September 20-23, the event included over 1,800 registered attendees, approximately 600 of those being exhibitors. Booth space in the exhibit hall was reportedly sold out.

Educational Program

The educational program attracted nationally and internationally known speakers who offered a variety of presentations regarding the latest information, technology, and research on prosthetics, orthotics, and business issues. The sessions offered over 34 continuing education credits for practitioners.

More than 90 percent of the clinical education had never been offered before at a national O&P meeting.

"War Time: The Walter Reed Experience," a special clinical presentation by Dennis Clark, CPO, and John Miguelez, CP, FAAOP, brought home the reality of suffering from the devastation of war. The presentation, with photos and videos of the rehabilitation team care of wounded men and women returning from Iraq showed the enormous effort involved in treating multiple injuries and blast wounds. However, the young soldiers were resilient and eager to be back on their feet. Rather than war veterans, they are considered as still active-duty soldiers. Clark and Miguelez have been involved in the rehab of lower- and upper-extremity amputees respectively.

Orthotic and prosthetic outreach activities in third-world countries were described in presentations by Healing Hands for Haiti Foundation (HHHF), Sonrie Ministries, and the World Rehabili-tation Fund (WRF). The sessions also explained how interested O&P professionals could volunteer in these areas of need.

An interesting and somewhat controversial presentation, "Tone Reduction vs. Core Stabilization: Designing More Effective Lower-Limb Orthoses," by Deanne Fish, MS, CPO, and Dulcey Lima, CO, OTR/L, explored the scientific basis for the relatively new hypothesis of "core stabilization." The presenters discussed the concept as applied to orthotic management applicable to various patient profiles.

Bob Watts of Dorset Orthopaedic in Great Britain discussed a new silicone ankle-foot orthosis (SAFO), for treating dropfoot, which departs somewhat from a more traditional rigid biomechanical control for a reportedly better outcome.

The clinical presentations in both orthotics and prosthetics included practical and thought-provoking information for attendees to take back to their practices.

The Practice Management Education program provided sound information and avenues to help business owners to survive and prosper in the current challenging reimbursement and regulatory environment.

And, as always, the exhibit hall provided a showcase for reviewing new and innovative products and services, along with the time-tested and proved standbys.

EDGE Drawing Winners Named

The O&P EDGE exhibit space focused on promoting the October issue of the publication, featuring an article on "Computer Technology in O&P", which provided a vision of the future and the possibilities of today. Another article highlighted the fabrication of the orthotic mask worn by Detroit Pistons NBA star Richard "Rip" Hamilton, made by Gerald McHale, CO, of Michigan Hand & Sports Rehab Center, and was the draw to the booth. The EDGE staff offered a contest drawing, in which attendees had three chances to enter to win one of three signed Rip Hamilton jerseys. Winners of the prized jerseys, drawn at the close of the meeting on Thursday, were Jason Jennings, CPO, of Rapid City, South Dakota; Lewis Meltzer, CPO, of New Port Richey, Florida; and Holly Malago of Mount Dora, Florida. Congratulations to the winners!

Next year's AOPA National Assembly is slated for September 25-28 at the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Again, a new day pattern--Sunday through Wednesday--will enable attendees and their families to enjoy a fun-filled weekend after the event.