<img style="float: right;" src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2008-04_08\/2008-04_08-01.jpg" hspace="4" vspace="4" \/>\r\n\r\n<b>Jean Williams Gonzalez, CPO,<\/b>\r\ndecided in her 30s to make a career change. She took the first major step by quitting her job in the banking industry, knowing only that she wanted to "do something of service." Gonzalez soon started work as an attendant for a close friend with muscular dystrophy who was a wheelchair user and wore a metal TLSHO. Gonzalez was constantly making temporary repairs to her friends brace, and that friend suggested Gonzalez consider becoming an orthotist\/prosthetist. "I explored my options and went back to school, and here I am years later," she says. Born in Alabama, Gonzalez has traveled all across the country. She lived in Los Angeles, California, before taking a position as a prosthetist at Pediatric Prosthetics Inc., Houston, Texas.\r\n<h4>1. Why did you decide to focus on pediatrics?<\/h4>\r\nI love children, and I love helping parents encourage their children to become the very best they can be. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing children smile when they accomplish a hard-won goal....My job is to give hope and encouragement to kids and families and help them dream big dreams again.\u00c2\r\n<h4>2. What are your top priorities\/goals when working with a patient?<\/h4>\r\nWorking with children really means working with families and the extended support group. I love to interact with the parents and help them understand all the things the child can strive for. I also love to get the therapist involved as soon as possible because the best prosthesis cannot be utilized if the patient does not learn the "how to." We also seek to get our families to network with each other so they can be mutually supportive of one another and their children.\r\n<h4>3. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see\r\nfor your field?<\/h4>\r\nWe see a lot of children with upper-extremity amputations in our practice. I get excited for their futures when I see all the upper-extremity research and development happening. The i-LIMB "" [Touch Bionics, Livingston, UK] is just a foretaste of what is about to emerge, and some of the developments at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) instill dreams of the bionic man and woman becoming a reality.\r\n<h4>4. What are your personal and\/or professional goals?<\/h4>\r\nMy personal goals are to learn as much as I can, share with my patients and their families what is possible, [and] then&provide the tools necessary; i.e., prostheses or orthoses that will better equip them to explore those possibilities. I read journals and books, and chase down a lot of information on the Net. I also share cases with colleagues and clinic team members to decide optimum treatment plans.\r\n<h4>5. Will you share with us an exceptional story about one\r\nof your patients?<\/h4>\r\nEvery child has a special story, but one in particular is a little girl who is a quadrilateral amputee. When she came to me at four years old, she could get around on her knees better than she could walk in the prostheses she was wearing. Once we had the new check sockets fit and the components attached to them, she all of a sudden started running down the hallway. She stopped and turned around, put her arms on her hips, stuck out her tongue, and said, "Now you can't catch me, 'cause I can really run." It was a teary-eyed moment for me and the girl's mom.