Caribbean Rim Conference Reaches Beyond Borders, Disciplines

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True to its theme "Partners in Rehabilitation," the 2009 Caribbean Rim International Conference on Physical Rehabilitation did more than reach beyond borders, it reached across disciplines.

Sponsored by the Dominican Republic and United States National Member Societies of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (D.R. ISPO, U.S. ISPO), in cooperation with The O&P EDGE , the educational and networking conference was held January 28-31 at the Embassy Suites Los Marlins Hotel and Golf Resort, Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic.

Despite the sunshine, white-sand beaches, ocean air, and relaxing atmosphere, the conference agenda was anything but relaxing, providing attendees with a bounty of stimulating educational opportunities.

Dan Blocka, BSc, CPO(c), president of ISPO, stressed the importance of bringing together members of the medical and rehabilitation teams in his keynote address, "ISPO Perspectives on P&O Medical Rehabilitation." " what ISPO stands for and tries to promote—the multidisciplinary team [and] bringing all the rehabilitation disciplines together," Blocka said.

Rosie Jované and John Bowker, MD
Rosie Jované and John Bowker, MD. Photograph courtesy of U.S. ISPO.

He asked conference attendees, "Has ISPO been successful in bringing together the rehabilitation team? Is this a realizable goal?" Based on the conference agenda, it seems clear that U.S. and D.R. ISPO believe it is a realizable goal.

"The team approach was more than just emphasized, it was demonstrated," said Rob Kistenberg, MPH, CP, LP, FAAOP, chair of U.S. ISPO. "That was great to see.... This multidisciplinary environment, coupled with clinicians from different healthcare systems showed just how much we could learn from each other."

Conference sessions focused on O&P medical rehabilitation, medical rehabilitation services that can require prosthetic or orthotic intervention, and on lower-limb amputation surgical interventions. Robert Gailey, PhD, PT, had full audience participation during his Lower-Limb-Amputee Physical Training, Balance, and Agility" workshop, with participants staying long past the workshop's end time. Other notable sessions included an overview of "Microprocessor-Controlled Prosthetic Knee Systems," presented by Phil Stephens, CO; an "Overview of Ischia-Ramal Interface Techniques," presented by Gerry Stark, ME, CP; "Upper-Limb Prosthetic Rehabilitation Issues and Alternatives," led by Chris Lake, CPO; and "Modeling Team Rehab," led by Susan Klappa, PT; Cate Braun, CP; and Terrance Sheehan, MD.

The final day of conference sessions kept the momentum going with presentations by William J.J. Ertl, MD, on the "Ertl Transtibial Bone Bridge Surgical Procedure," and Frank Gottschalk, MD, on "Transfemoral Myodesis to Enhance Prosthetic Fittings."

Demonstrations of the WalkAide™ system and the i-LIMB™ Hand, coupled with an exhibit hall filled with vendors from some of the leading companies of O&P products and services, exposed participants to some of the field's newest technologies.

Attendees noted the diversity of topics and presenters, the variety of networking opportunities, and the team-rehab approach among the strengths of the conference. "Even with ideological barriers, we can have better outcomes if we work together," one attendee noted on his conference evaluation.

"This conference was a true partnership with the Dominican Republic ISPO," said U.S. ISPO's Dianne Farabi. D.R. ISPO is a new ISPO member society, which formed with startup funds from U.S. ISPO.

"This meeting exceeded everybody's expectations," said José Paúl Rodríguez Mancebo, president of D.R. ISPO. "The meeting also enhanced the recently established Dominican Republic National Member Society of ISPO."

Abstracts are now being accepted for the Pacific Rim 2010 Conference, which is scheduled for January 25-27, 2010, at the Sheraton Maui Hotel and Resort, Hawaii. The conference theme will be "Best Practices for a Changing World: An International Disciplinary Conference on Physical Medicine," according to Elizabeth Mansfield, a 2010 conference chair.

—Karen Henry

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