Oakland University Offering O&P Assistant Course

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A new Orthotist and Prosthetist Assistant Studies (OPA) specialization is being offered within the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science degree program in the Department of Human Movement Science at Oakland University.

The 26-credit hour specialization combines human movement, materials science, and engineering. In addition, a new 18-credit OPA minor is available to students in any major across the university.

"The OPA program is a new program that offers the health science student a unique field blending patient care, rehabilitation, engineering elements of materials characteristics and biomechanical design, and so much more," said Tamara Treanore, CO, the program's founding director and special instructor.

Assistants work in collaboration with clinical orthotists and prosthetists, as well as other healthcare providers, to design, fit and modify orthotic and prosthetic devices. They also maintain a presence from the first assessment to follow-up with the patient, encompassing the design, fabrication, and fit of their devices.

"We are proud to be one of the first orthotist and prosthetist assistant programs to be launched in the US and expect that it will serve as a model for others nationwide," said Daniel Goble, PhD, associate professor and coordinator of the Exercise Science program at Oakland University.

The OPA specialization is a professionally accredited field requiring post-graduate completion of a paid clinical residency. Candidates are eligible to sit for certification examination following the residency (several states also require licensure before allowing independent practice).

Oakland University is pursuing national accreditation of the OPA specialization through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). A site visit is planned for this fall.

Photograph of Treanore courtesy of Oakland University.