In 1970, a new development began to fuel better care worldwide for persons who suffer from neuromuscular and skeletal impairments. A group of farsighted rehabilitation professionals, including surgeons, prosthetists/orthotists, physical and occupational therapists, and engineers, founded the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The multidisciplinary organization comprises men and women who have a professional interest in the clinical, educational, and research aspects of prosthetics, orthotics, rehabilitation engineering, and related areas. ISPO is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UN) and is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), which means that ISPO is recognized as an important voice on matters related to orthotics and prosthetics in general with a focus on educational and practice standards worldwide.
One of ISPO’s most important contributions to international rehabilitation care has been assisting in standardizing and upgrading the education and skills of P&O professionals and technicians worldwide. ISPO/WHO categories and the knowledge and skills sets for each level grew from a 1990 “summit conference” held in Alexandria, Egypt. The meeting brought together personnel from WHO, ISPO, seven P&O schools in developing countries, and organizations involved in the development and support of P&O training programs in developing countries.
|From left: Albina Shankar, director of Mobility India; Dr Sarwar, Pakistan Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotic Science; Dan Blocka, ISPO education chair; and Ritu Ghosh, deputy director of Mobility India, look over the curriculum of the Category II single-discipline course at the recent inspection carried out by ISPO. Photo by Carson Harte.|
The society has detailed appropriate education and training programs for the credentialed, professional prosthetist/orthotist and for the orthopedic technologist trained at a slightly lower level. ISPO also provides examiners and advice for programs seeking an ISPO/WHO category status that attests to the quality and level of their training.
“The Society’s education philosophy encompasses these three categories and has been concentrated on Category I and II professionals who take part in patient care activities as opposed to Category III workers, whose focus is in the area of manufacturing and assembly,” according to ISPO.
“It must be emphasized that this is not an attempt to describe all of those who work in this field throughout the world. It is a description of the levels of education and training which the society believes [are desirable] for those involved in patient care [and the support of manufacturing and assembly] in the developed and the developing world respectively.”
(Editor’s note: Detailed information on the educational and other requirements needed to meet the ISPO standards for each category can be found on the ISPO website: www.ispoweb.org) Some graduates of Category II P&O schools in developing nations can upgrade to Category I under programs created in cooperation with Category I universities and schools.
International P&O: A Dynamic Picture
The international P&O scene is growing, dynamic, and steadily raising the bar for patient care-and ISPO is helping to make that happen.
In his Interim Report August 2006, ISPO President Harold G. Shangali noted a rise in the number of requests the ISPO Executive Board is receiving for “advice and/or evaluation of training and education programs at different levels in the industrial and developing countries&which have applied for ISPO/WHO Category-II or Category-I accreditation.” Countries represented include Argentina, Togo, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Tanzania, Pakistan, El Salvador, France, Cambodia, Germany, Ethiopia, Thailand, and India. “Many of these programs are either part way through the process or have been advised to review the structure of their respective curricula in order to meet the basic requirements,” the report says.
ISPO Accreditation Categories
Category I Prosthetist/Orthotist (or equivalent term).