AOPA: Driving the Waves of Change

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By Betta Ferrendelli

Exclusive live coverage from The O&P EDGE.

More than 2,400 orthotic, prosthetic, and pedorthic professionals from 20 countries traveled to San Diego to attend the 102nd American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) National Assembly September 25-28.

Opening day began with AOPA recognizing the winners of the lifetime achievement and legislative advocacy awards. Opening ceremonies included a keynote address by Capt. Lanny Boswell, USN (Ret), PhD, PT, OCS. The former commanding officer for the hospital ship USNS Comfort's medical treatment facility spoke about the importance of O&P from a military perspective. And Jim Weber, AOPA president, welcomed everyone to the opening of the exhibit hall inside the San Diego Convention Center with a champagne toast on Wednesday evening.

More than 150 women attended the fourth annual Women in O&P luncheon Thursday afternoon, which acknowledged the contributions and advancement of women in O&P and provided a discussion about the future for women in the profession. Jeff Lutz, CPO, AOPA president-elect, gave the opening comments. He told the audience he had worked for more than 25 years in hospital administration, a setting that was dominated primarily by women. When Lutz initially entered O&P, however, he said he found it to be "very male dominated." Much has changed in O&P over the years and Lutz told the women in the audience he was "honored to see how many women are in O&P now and transforming the industry."

Nicole Ver Kuilen, an athlete and advocate for prosthesis users who lost her left leg below the knee to bone cancer when she was a child, gave the keynote address and received a standing ovation. She spoke of the importance of determination and not giving up when it comes to accomplishing goals and aspirations. "There is unlimited potential in each one of us," Ver Kuilen told the audience.

There were also numerous educational opportunities, and topics included outcomes- and evidence-based practices, the need for transparency, value-based funding, technology advancement, the realities and legalities of workplace harassment, opioid use in adults with transfemoral amputations, transitional approaches to wound healing, prostheses that feel, clinical and technical considerations for restoring sensation for those with upper- and lower-limb amputations, and the latest advancements in osseointegration, among others.

Inside the exhibit hall, there were more than 150 exhibitors and a host of special events including a massage station sponsored by Cailor Fleming, a headshot lounge sponsored by Alps South, and the annual technical fabrication contest, which resulted in 11 winners.

The 2020 AOPA National Assembly will be held September 9-12 in Las Vegas.