On June 28, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced two bills to improve O&P care for service members and veterans. The legislation would enhance research in best practices and support colleges and universities seeking to establish degree programs to train specialists.
The first bill, the Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act (S. 1467), authorizes a competitive grant program to help colleges and universities develop O&P master’s degree programs. Each institution receiving one of these grants will require students to rotate through facilities run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the U.S. Department of Defense, or by facilities that hold VA contracts. The bill also requires the VA to establish a Center of Excellence in Prosthetic and Orthotic Education to provide evidence-based research on the knowledge, skills, and training clinical professionals need to care for veterans.
The second bill, the Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act (S. 1466), establishes the first centralized collection of outcomes-based O&P research. The research collection established by the bill will give caregivers the knowledge they need to better match prosthetic and orthotic devices with individual patients, saving time and money by improving the likelihood that a veteran’s first prosthesis will also be the best. In addition, the research collection will provide information on advanced materials, technologies, and devices.