Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium: Share, Inspire, Grow Together

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By Betta Ferrendelli

More than 1,600 people attended the 2018 National Meeting of the American Academy of Orthotics and Prosthetics (the Academy) February 14-17 in New Orleans. The event drew O&P professionals from all over the world to the Crescent City to experience four days of well-attended hands-on learning and educational sessions, panel discussions, and workshops, along with numerous networking opportunities, and a chance to experience the exhibit hall first hand, which was filled with current technology and the latest trends in O&P.

Angel Giuffria performs a myoelectric hand demonstration in the exhibit hall.

Photographs by Betta Ferrendelli.

The event began February 14 with the opening session and keynote address by CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) and author Randy Gravitt. His presentation, aimed at helping everyone to become better leaders, motivated the crowd and got the meeting off to an enthusiastic start. Recipients of the 2018 Academy Awards were also presented; ten were honored and included Gary Bedard, CO, FAAOP, who won the Titus-Ferguson Lifetime Achievement award and Keith Smith, CO/L, FAAOP, who earned the Distinguished Practitioner award. The first day closed with an evening welcome reception. Attendees were able to catch up with colleagues and friends in the exhibit hall while enjoying cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.

The first Women in O&P reception was held more than a decade ago, giving women in the profession an opportunity to network—and this year's event continued that goal. Tina Hittenberger, CO, one of the first women to become a certified orthotist in the mid-1970s, attended the reception, which was standing-room only. She said she couldn't have been more pleased with the attendance at the event. "As I look around this room, I see many women here who could be in charge," Hittenberger said. "I would happily mentor any one of these women."

From left: Abel Perez de Alderete and Anthony Grippo check out the latest in prosthetic technology.

Before the Women in O&P reception got under way, Cassandra Delgado, CO, was awarded the $1,500 Women in O&P research scholarship for 2018 and an American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics/Orthotics and Prosthetic Education and Research Foundation (ABC/OPERF) resident travel award during the Introduction to Women in O&P session. "It's encouraging from others in the field who want you to succeed and do well," Delgado said during the presentation.

There were also many attendees coming to New Orleans for the first time, including a group of O&P students from the master of prosthetics-orthotics program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The students said they came to the annual meeting to gain more exposure to the O&P world, and events at the annual meeting more than met their expectations. Student Shea Briggs said she was excited to learn more about products and research. "There's so much more here than
I ever expected I would see," Briggs said. Cammie McAuliffe also wanted to gain more exposure to research. "We've only been here one day, but I already feel like I've seen more and achieved more than I expected," she said.

From left: Gary Berke, Michelle Hall, Wendy Beattie, and Scott Cummings participate in a panel discussion called Prosthetic Clinical Decision Making in the Face of Technological Advancement.

The 2019 Academy Annual National Meeting & Scientific Symposium is scheduled for March 6-9 in Orlando, Florida.