From the Editor: Summer Reading for the Travels Ahead

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By Tina Eichner

If you have not yet read the dramatic tale of life and hope in Afghanistan told by Farah Ahmedi, I highly recommend adding it to your summer reading list.

While attending the ACPOC meeting held in Sacramento, California, in mid-May, I picked up a copy of the book, The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky , coauthored by Farah Ahmedi and Tamim Ansary. Advanced O&P Solutions, Hickory Hills, Illinois, is helping distribute this awe-inspiring story of a young woman's years-long journey to a new life in the United States after losing her legs as a young child in a landmine explosion in Afghanistan. Farah's story was published after an essay about her experiences won the Good Morning America and Simon & Schuster "The Story of My Life" contest last year.

The main theme of the book is not about her experience as an amputee, but rather her challenges as a young woman living in a dangerous land in perilous times, seeking a better life for herself and her ailing mother after losing the rest of her family to the ravages of war.

When Farah first was injured, she was sent to Germany by herself for treatment, at the age of seven. There she received a glimpse of what the Western world had to offer and her vision toward a life in the United States began to form. Therefore, though not a lot is written about her injury specifically, it is what ironically leads her to pursue a "better" life.

We are all very aware of the dramatic differences in available orthotic and prosthetics care and devices from one part of the world to another. The book does provide striking examples of this as Farah describes waiting, without pain medication, on a cot in a makeshift hospital in her village for months before being sent to Germany for multiple surgeries and eventual prosthetic fittings. Later, she writes about the damage to her prostheses after several years of wear and then having her worn-out, child-sized prosthetic foot replaced with a foot for a grown man at a clinic in Pakistan.

Along the road to refuge in the United States, Farah and her mother are helped by several caring "angels," as she calls them, and a few unlikely friends.

The Road Ahead in O&P

In this month's feature section we also look at a "journey," the pathway to the evolution of O&P. What are the trends that will shape the future of O&P and how is the industry preparing for them? Miki Fairley writes about customization vs. commoditization , and Edward Neumann takes on the subject of approaches to evidence-based practice. In addition, don't miss " Seeing the Light at Sunriver: AOPA Plans Ahead ," in this issue. In this insightful article, Miki Fairley looks at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association's (AOPA) initiatives in partnership with other O&P leaders to set the future course of the profession. AOPA plans to bring together a few dozen of the brightest "minds" throughout O&P this fall in an exclusive gathering to further discuss long-term industry initiatives. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting?