The Academy's 37th Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium

By Pam Martin

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." -Michelangelo, as quoted by Scott Cummings, PT, CPO, FAAOP, during the opening session on March 17.

The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy) 37th Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium opened with Academy President Scott Cummings, PT, CPO, FAAOP, encouraging members to aim high in a profession that is currently undergoing a transformation. Because of the trend toward an ever-expanding pool of research to enhance clinical outcomes and the movement away from a perception of O&P as a trade, he advised clinicians to position themselves in the industry not as providers of devices but as providers of care. When speaking about the O&P profession, Cummings said he "hesitates to use the word 'work' because it's so much fun." He singled out a boy named Carter, an inspirational five-year-old congenital amputee as one example of why there is so much satisfaction to be found in O&P, and why the educational development of the profession's practitioners, researchers, and technicians is key in order for the profession to continue to thrive.

At right, Academy President Scott Cummings, PT, CPO, FAAOP, congratulates Karl Fillauer, CPO, FAAOP, this year's Titus-Ferguson award recipient for lifetime achievement in O&P. Photograph courtesy of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists.

Aimed at furthering that development, 1,700 industry professionals gathered March 16-19 in Orlando, Florida, to honor the field's leaders, disseminate news of the latest research findings, garner continuing education credits, and demonstrate company product lines, including some of the newest in O&P technologies. A crowded exhibit hall showcased the wares of 190 vendors, and the restaurants and lecture halls were packed with professionals looking to learn, conduct business, and connect with their industry peers.

New products vied for attention in the exhibit hall and ranged in scope from a recently invented silicon liner by Symmetry Prosthetics, Raleigh, North Carolina, to a mini gait lab by Streifeneder, Emmering, Germany. The latter's booth featured a subject who was rigged out with LED-lit "markers." As he walked on a treadmill, a computer monitor highlighted gait patterns useful in clinical diagnostic measures, according to Simon Voit, Dipl.-Ingenieur.

Kelly Clark, CO, of Otto Bock HealthCare, Minneapolis, Minnesota, strapped the company's diagnostic stance-control orthosis on passersby, and Freedom Innovations, Irvine California, offered up the world's only professional amputee kiteboarder and wakeboarder, Sean Reyngoudt, who wears the company's Renegade foot.

Academy awards were bestowed on dedicated industry leaders such as Karl Fillauer, CPO, FAAOP, recognized with the Titus- Ferguson award for lifetime achievement because he has "demonstrated a record of sustained devotion and leadership to the advancement of the Academy and the orthotic and prosthetic profession," according to a Fillauer, Chattanooga, Tennessee, press release. Other honors included Gary Bedard, CO, FAAOP, distinguished practitioner; Phil Stevens, MEd, CPO, FAAOP, clinical creativity; Todd Anderson, CP, FAAOP, clinical commitment (bestowed posthumously); Joan Sanders, PhD, research award; and Edward Haddon, MEd, CO, outstanding educator. Robert Gailey, PhD, PT, and Brian Hafner, PhD, were given honorary membership awards for their work that is closely allied to O&P.

A surprised Fillauer said he "didn't know he was in contention [for the award]," adding, "I'm very honored." Fillauer noted that he's proud of "continuing the family legacy," now in its third generation of O&P practitioners; of being in a profession where "you can use your god-given talents to do good for the people you serve" and also do well professionally; and for having "the ability to help other people use their talents and succeed."

When asked to comment about the success of the show, Clark F. Howland, CFo, owner and president of Clark F. Howland & Associates, Normal, Illinois, said, "We've gotten some great leads." Susan Marvin, CP, Specialized Orthopedic Solutions, Vienna, Virginia, came to the show "to see what the vendors have to offer," among other reasons, and for Ronald Dickson, O&P resident at Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates, Orlando, Florida, the meeting is about "the connections you make with people."

The Academy's 38th Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium is scheduled for March 21-24, 2012, in Atlanta, Georgia.