AOPA president Traci Dralle, CFm, gave remarks during the opening ceremonies, and told the audience, “It’s wonderful to be together for the first time in almost a year.”
As part of the opening general session on Friday, Nicole Ver Kuilen and former congressman Erik Paulsen , participated in an engaging question-and-answer session that focused on advocacy and innovation in O&P. 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.
Friday’s general session also included a frank discussion on diversity in O&P. Several guest speakers spoke on increasing awareness in diversity and microaggression in O&P and how to identify and prevent learned behaviors and stereotypes to build a more inclusive environment in O&P.
The annual Howard R. Thranhardt award event also marked a milestone at the National Assembly this year—its 25th year recognizing excellence in O&P. The 2021 winners included Andreas Hahn, PhD, for his project, “The Effect of Microprocessor Controlled Exo-Prosthetic Knees on Limited Community Ambulators: Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis,” and Chrysta Irolla, MS, MSPO, CPO, and Emily Nelson, MSE, MSOP, CP, for their work, “Treatment Parameters for the UCSF Pectus Carinatum Orthosis: A Pilot Study.”
During the AOPA general meeting on Saturday morning, Brad Ruhl, former CEO managing director for Ottobock North America, Austin, Texas, received the lifetime achievement award. Ruhl, who had been with Ottobock for 33 years, retired in June. Ruhl, choking up during his acceptance speech, said he was “grateful for having a chance to help people who needed a little help [with mobility] along the way.”
If you missed the in-person assembly, the event will be held virtually September 16-18.
The 2022 National Assembly will be held September 28-October 1 in San Antonio, Texas.