Live coverage from The O&P EDGE.
More than 1,700 people attended the 2020 Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium of the American Academy of Orthotics and Prosthetics (the Academy) March 4-7 in Chicago.
Despite growing caution about the novel coronavirus, officially called SARS-CoV-2, the event drew thousands of worldwide O&P professionals to the Windy City. Attendees experienced four days of hands-on learning, educational sessions, and workshops, along with a plethora of networking opportunities and a chance to roam the exhibit hall filled with the latest trends and technologies, as well as product showcase displays of current O&P technology.
The 46th annual meeting marked a milestone for the Academy, which will celebrate its 50-year anniversary in November.
The event got underway Wednesday evening, March 4, with an opening address by Kate Allyn, CPO/L, FAAOP, Academy president, who told the audience the annual event was a place to come together to share knowledge and experience and gain a renewed interest in the profession. The keynote address was delivered by Scott Deming, a former advertising executive who gave the audience tips to improve and enhance their businesses.
Nine recipients of the 2020 Academy awards were also recognized: Gary Burke, MS, CP, FAAOP, received the Titus Ferguson Lifetime Achievement award; Alicia Davis, MPA, CPO, FAAOP(D), the Distinguished Practitioner award; Robert Silvestri, CPO/L, and Allen Ingersoll, BA, CP, Clinical Commitment award; Duffy Felmlee, MSOP, CPO, FAAOP, Outstanding Educator’s award; Shane Wurdeman, PhD, CP, FAAOP(D), earned the Research award; Greg Davidson, CPO, was awarded the Clinical Creativity award; and Jeffrey Bott, a veteran of the United States Air Force, received an honorary membership to the Academy for his work to improve the lives of veterans with amputations. Finally, Nicole Ver Kuilen was honored with the Mohamed Amin award for humanitarian service. Ver Kuilen, who lost her leg to bone cancer as a child, founded Forrest Stump, a nonprofit advocacy organization to benefit people with amputations and disabilities.
The coronavirus failed to stop students from attending the meeting. Tyler Harrison is currently ten months into her combined O&P residency with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She said the college had sent out information regarding precautions against the virus, which eased her concerns.
This conference was Harrison’s second; she attended the Annual Meeting in Orlando last year. “It helped me really enjoy the conference this year,” she says. “Through the experiences that I gained over the year with finishing school and beginning residency, I felt more prepared coming into the conference. For example, I knew more about the products from vendors because I had experience fitting them on patients. I was also more involved in some of the roundtable discussions and sessions this year.”
The annual meeting was the first for Hannah Clark, who is also a Baylor O&P master’s student. She was impressed with the workshops, exhibit hall, and after-hours events. “The workshops and presentations beautifully supplemented the material I am learning in class,” she says. “It was exciting to listen to and ask questions of authors I have read before face to face. As a student, you respect and look up to so many people, but it is not often you are surrounded by all of your role models at one time.”
Clark also suggested adding more roundtable discussion workshops. “That interactive setup engaged every participant, gave everyone a voice, and led to further discussion outside of the session,” she says.
The next Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium: Connect, Belong, Grow is scheduled for February 17-20, 2021, in New Orleans.