March 2, the first day of the meeting, brought a full day of hands-on technical workshops and ended with a welcome reception that opened the doors to the exhibit hall, which included more than 150 features, demonstrations, and displays.
The next day showcased the award-winning Thranhardt lecture series and was filled with clinical technique sessions, free papers, and organized sessions. The day also featured a full range of educational opportunities for orthotists, prosthetists, O&P technicians, practice managers, and pedorthists.
Several themes to emerge from the annual meeting included women, diversity, and workplace culture in O&P.
A breakfast event on March 2, highlighting women in O&P and the diverse O&P community, was well attended, as was another special session, “Changing Tides: Workplace Culture & Employee Retention in O&P.”
The annual meeting held something for almost everyone who attended.
Shima Nixon is a second-year MSPO student at Alabama State University, and this was her second time attending an academy meeting. “I can honestly say this meeting was even better than last year,” Nixon said. “I was able to present my research that I’ve been working on with my colleagues Gabe Keating, Saydee Keith, and our facility advisors Ryan Funderburk and Scott Bretl.”
Nixon was also invited to sit on a panel with the Collaborative on Inclusive Action and Engagement, titled “Making the O&P Field & Patient Experience More Inclusive.” Nixon said she was able to share her experiences “as an African American, female future clinician who is also a bilateral amputee.” Nixon, who lost both her legs in an automobile accident ten years ago, said, “This opportunity allowed me to advocate for underrepresented groups in the O&P field to begin to bring change.”
Jeff Soelberg, a first-time attendee and patient ambassador for Point Designs, said the event “was amazing for me.” Soelberg, who lost three fingers on his right hand in a work-related accident seven years ago, had the opportunity to participate in several workshops and breakout events, as well as having his hand cast four times over the course of the week.
Organized sessions highlighted everything from current trends and technologies in O&P to what’s on the horizon.
The session “Next to Hit the Shelves: Technologies to Impact the O&P Profession in the Near Future” provided attendees a look at future O&P interventions that soon may be available for clinical use. Projects ranging from powered exoskeletons to innovative socket designs are at the forefront of technology, the panel told the audience.
“Clinical Management and Treatment of Patients with Osseointegrated Prostheses” offered a panel discussion with specialists, users, and educators giving an overview of the prosthetist’s and the care team’s roles in treating individuals with OI implants and the actionable steps necessary for their clinical care.
In the “Recently Released Clinical Practice Guidelines on Rehabilitation following Upper-Limb Amputation” organized session, a panel introduced two new Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) regarding rehabilitation after upper-limb amputation published by the Hanger Institute and the Department of Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense.
A Saturday organized session “Lessons Learned: What School Doesn’t Teach About Difficult Interpersonal Situations on Clinical Practice” provided an insightful look at understanding how differences in perspectives between the patient and provider can manifest in the clinic as challenging interpersonal situations. The panel summarized the importance of language in nurturing patient relationships for improved communication within the patient-provider care team, as well as how to understand compassion fatigue and how to balance personal emotions while at work. The panel also highlighted personal and shared experiences of difficult interpersonal scenarios in the clinical setting, both patient and provider focused, discussed what was done well or could be improved for future interactions.
The 50th Academy Annual Meeting & Symposium will be held March 6-9, 2024, in Chicago.