Do You ISPO?

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By Rob Kistenberg, CP, FAAOP

Sixteen years ago as prosthetic students at UCLA's Long-term Certificate Program in Prosthetics, we were introduced to the organizations of the O&P profession. The alphabet soup was thinner then, as it consisted primarily of the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ABC), the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy), and the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) within the United States, and the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) internationally. I recall thinking it odd to have multiple organizations within the US--but only one for the world. As the US organizations have multiplied to the chagrin and often confusion of many, ISPO stands alone atop the world for prosthetic and orthotic rehabilitation and education.

ISPO is THE global organization whose purpose and function is "the promotion of quality care and education of professionals for the benefit of consumers." As such, our membership consists not only of prosthetists, orthotists, and technicians, but also of all persons involved with prosthetic and orthotic care, including surgeons, physiatrists, podiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation engineers, nurses, administrators, students, and others. It is truly an interdisciplinary organization.

Founded in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1970, ISPO com­prises more than 2,600 members across 84 countries. Any country that has at least five members willing to promote the level of P&O care can petition ISPO to establish a National Member Society within that country. There are currently 39 National Member Societies in ISPO, each one with varying activities all related to ISPO's purpose and function.

Progress and Momentum

I have been honored to serve on the Board of Directors for the US National Member Society (US-ISPO) for the last four years and could not be more energized about my current position as chair. John Fisk, MD, the past chair (and current vice president of ISPO) has left a legacy of progress and momentum for US-ISPO which culminated in the "Reaching Beyond Our Borders" (RBOB '05) International Conference on Disabilities and Outreach in January 2005.

RBOB '05 was a convergence of those interested in becoming involved with international outreach activities and all of the major organizations performing outreach activities around the world, including ISPO, US Agency for International Development (USAID), Rotary International (RI), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Rehabilitation Fund (WRF), Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), Physicians for Peace, the Prosthetic Outreach Foundation (POF), and many more. The participant evaluations from RBOB 05 were unanimous about the high quality of the meeting and remarked as to its intimate nature with international appeal.

Because of its success, we are planning to make "Reaching Beyond Our Borders" conferences a biennial event. The next one will be held in Cancun, Mexico on February 13, 2007. By attending this conference "beyond our border" in Cancun, you will have access to high-quality education and a wide range of O&P rehabilitation professionals from all over Latin America.

If you are interested in the WORLDVIEW of P&O rehabilitation, then you ISPO. If you have ever been on a "mission trip," you know what it is like to share your knowledge and skills and to provide limbs, braces, and rehabilitation for no other reason than people have unmet needs and you have the ability to fulfill them. You know what it is like--to ISPO. If you have ever thought about going on such a trip, then you probably ISPO. You just don't know it yet.

If you are uncertain if you would like to ISPO, then set your sights on Vancouver, Canada, July 29-August 3, 2007, for the XII World Congress. It has been 15 years since ISPO hosted its World Congress on the North American continent! You do not want to miss this one!

If you have ever been a member of ISPO and felt that the organization was just not providing sufficient return for your membership dollars, reconsider that position. Reinstate your membership. You won't regret it. If you have never been a member of ISPO, now is our most exciting time in history. Join in the excitement. Get the worldview of prosthetics and orthotics.

If you have any questions about US-ISPO ( www.usispo.org), ISPO ( www.ispoweb.org), or international P&O services in general, check out the websites. Or please contact me by email: robcp@oandp.com.

Do you ISPO now?