AOPA 2013 World Congress

By Andrea Spridgen
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To the theme of "A Whole New World," more than 2,000 members of the O&P community from 43 countries convened September 18-21 for the 2013 American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) World Congress in Orlando, Florida, for four days of education, new product exhibitions, and networking events. Thursday morning's opening ceremony was standing room only as patients shared their stories of the impact that O&P professionals have had on their lives, followed by opening remarks from AOPA President Thomas Kirk, PhD.

Näder accepts the honorary International Lifetime Achievement Award at the AOPA World Congress in Orlando. Photograph courtesy of Ottobock.

The AOPA Membership Meeting and Awards Ceremony were held Friday morning during which newly elected officers for the 2014 AOPA board of directors were announced: Anita Liberman-Lampear, MA, president; Charles H. Dankmeyer Jr., CPO, president-elect; and James Campbell, PhD, CO, FAAOP, vice-president. Maynard Carkhuff; Donald Shurr, CPO, PT; and Eileen Levis, were also announced as 2014 board members. During this program, AOPA honored Hans Georg Näder, president and CEO of Ottobock, Duderstadt, Germany, with its first International Lifetime Achievement Award.

The O&P EDGE caught up with Näder the evening before and asked him how O&P has evolved since he started working for Ottobock at age 23. Näder said that he's been amazed by the progression of technology, from mechanical to mechatronics, and innovations in the market that have improved patients' quality of life. "I see a unique growth opportunity in the new segment of neurorehabilitation," he said. He also shared his excitement about Ottobock's plans to build a science center in New York, New York, much like its current center in Berlin, Germany, adding that the project is slated for completion in 2017. He said he believes that this can be a learning and advocacy resource for the industry, comments he reinforced in his award acceptance speech.

A record-breaking 200 exhibitors showcased their products and services. Photograph courtesy of Catherine Marinoff, AOPA photographer.

Friday's schedule also included the Sam E. Hamontree, CP, Business Education Lecture Series and the Thranhardt clinical lecture series. This year's winner of the Hammontree Business Education Award was Donald E. Katz, MHA, CO, LO, FAAOP, for his lecture, "Using Lean Principles to Document Changes in Staff Workflow and Patient Services." Howard R. Thranhardt Awards were presented to Silvia Raschke, PhD, and Michael Orendurff, PhD, for "Can You Tell Which Foot Is Which?" and Brian Hafner, PhD, for "Prosthetic Limb Users Survey of Mobility (PLUS-M)." A number of educational sessions also addressed business challenges facing O&P practices today, the highlight of which was the packed two-hour session, "Everything You Need to Know to Survive RAC and Prepayment Audits in a Desperate Environment," presented by Peter Thomas, JD, National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) general counsel; Joseph McTernan, AOPA director of coding and reimbursement services, education and programming; Devon Bernard, AOPA reimbursement services manager; and Christina A. Hughes, JD, MPH. The session was so popular that handouts ran out quickly. The handouts are now available on AOPA's website, www.aopanet.org. To find the handouts, enter "RAC Audit Presentation" in the search tool.

The AOPA World Congress also offered time for socializing with a special reception in the exhibit hall, the sixth annual O&P Political Action Committee (PAC) Wine Tasting and Auction, the Thranhardt Golf Classic, and a Marvel Super Hero Island® Street Party at Universal Studios Florida, Orlando. In addition, several businesses and organizations celebrated anniversaries. Among them, Nabtesco Proteor USA, celebrated PROTEOR Group's 100-year anniversary. Ultraflex Systems, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, celebrated its 23-year partnership with the O&P profession and reaching its 200,000 patient milestone with a special event at which it held a drawing for a $1,000 grand prize. The winner was Tonja Randolph, president and publisher of The O&P EDGE, who announced that the prize will be donated to the American Red Cross flood relief fund in Colorado to help those who were affected by the floods that ravaged 14 counties in the state in September.

The 2014 AOPA National Assembly is scheduled to take place September 3-6 in Las Vegas, Nevada.