Measuring Success

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By Andrea Spridgen
Andrea Spridgen

We all have our own way of measuring success-personal and professional-whether it's earning a specific degree, developing skills such as painting or dancing, or landing a dream job. You and the O&P patients you treat also have your own ways of measuring their success throughout the rehabilitation process, which may include being able to ambulate with only an orthosis, being able to navigate uneven terrain, being able to independently perform activities of daily living, or, for some, even being able to run a marathon. However, for third-party payers, these types of measures may be too abstract when it comes time to justify reimbursements. And this is where the importance of quantitative, standardized outcomes measurement becomes a critical component in O&P practice.

Two of the features in this issue describe possibilities for collecting outcomes data to track the success of O&P interventions. The first, "Accelerating Outcomes Measurement in Clinical Practice With Fitbit," examines the Fitbit's accuracy when measuring activities in patients with compromised mobility who may walk slower than the average healthy individual. Additionally, it offers some tips for practitioners who want to incorporate it into clinical practice as an outcomes measurement tool, with advice regarding placement of the device, its use in supplementing subjective gait analysis, and its general correlation to K-levels.

The second outcomes measurement feature introduces a relatively new approach for assessing the effectiveness of prosthetic design and fit. In "DPM: Direct Prosthetic Measurement," Edward S. Neumann, PhD, PE, CP, FAAOP, introduces the principles behind DPM, which directly measures the forces and moments an individual experiences as he or she uses a prosthesis. While additional research and development are needed to adopt DPM outside of research settings, including increased availability of cost-effective load cells, it represents a way in which prosthetists can objectively measure intrasocket pressure and gait deviations based on patient propulsive forces in all planes.

These articles propose ways in which O&P professionals may choose to assess outcomes with more objective, standardized datasets. And while that is essential for the promotion of the profession, third-party reimbursement, and further research breakthroughs, I believe we should also continue to celebrate those individual, subjective measures of success-the woman who can take a walk with her children, the man who can use his prosthetic arm to cast a fishing rod, and the woman whose AFO allows her a comfortable gait.

Finally, if you are attending the Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy), please stop by The O&P EDGE and Amplitude booth #1211.

Happy reading.