<h4>What About the Consumer?<\/h4>\r\n<b>To the Editor:<\/b>\r\n\r\nI read with great interest Miki Fairley's feature article in\r\nyour July issue, "Commoditization vs. Customization: Are Trends in\r\nO&P Affecting You?"\r\n\r\nI found the unbiased approach to eliciting multiple views of the\r\narticle's core issue thought-provoking and enlightening. As I read,\r\nhowever, I was surprised by the noticeable omission of the\r\nconsumer's opinion. Okay, call me biased. After all, I am a\r\nconsumer. And furthermore, this is an industry-directed\r\npublication. But, step back for a moment and give some thought to\r\nmy observation.\r\n\r\nYou have challenged a variety of industry executives and O&P\r\nprofessionals by asking, "What about you?" You write, "It all boils\r\ndown to know your business. Don't just assume that because you are\r\na good practitioner, you will succeed. Don't assume that if you\r\njust keep doing what you are doing, this too [current challenges]\r\nwill pass. Know your business inside and out. Know the numbers.\r\nKnow who is doing what and why."\r\n\r\nIt seems obvious to me then, if you are to know your business\r\ninside and out, that you also would include, and hopefully value,\r\nthe opinion of the foundation of your business...the consumer.\r\nHow else will you know what we need and want, what we would like to\r\nsee changed, and what we may be willing to pay for...if you don't\r\nask us?\r\n\r\nIn the end, "Trends in the O&P Industry" affect each of us,\r\nperhaps in very different ways, but definitely, in very personal\r\nways.\r\n\r\n<i><b>Kathleen Spozio\r\nShippenville, PA<\/b><\/i>\r\n<h4>O&P Education Efforts Move Forward in Colombia<\/h4>\r\n<b>To the Editor:<\/b>\r\n\r\nThis letter is to let you know about some wonderful O&P\r\ndevelopments in Colombia. Through the energetic leadership and\r\ncooperation of a number of people, progress is being made toward\r\nthe establishment of high-quality O&P education in that\r\ncountry. The O&P education program at Don Bosco University in\r\nEl Salvador is, of course, a bright O&P education light in\r\nLatin America. There also are the important programs in Mexico and\r\nArgentina, but there is a desperate need for many more such\r\nprograms.\r\n\r\nThe most active leadership has been provided by Jose Miguel\r\nGomez, MD, Gustavo Malag\u00f3n, MD, and Kevin Meade, PhD.\r\n\r\nGomez is a native Colombian physician, trained in orthotics at\r\nCentury College and now living and working in Houston. Malag\u00f3n\r\nis a Colombian orthopedic surgeon, trained in the US and now rector\r\nof Fundaci\u00f3n Escuela Colombiana De Rehabilitaci\u00f3n, also\r\nknown as EPC. Meade is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the\r\nIllinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and trained in orthotics at\r\nNorthwestern University. These three men, and a host of helpers,\r\norganized an orthotic-prosthetic scientific conference held in\r\nBogot\u00e1 May 15 through 18. The conference was titled\r\n"Biomec\u00e1nicas Avanzadas en el Tratamiento De Patolog\u00edas\r\nDeformativas del Sistema Osteomuscular." It was attended by about\r\n170 people, including practicing orthotists, prosthetists,\r\ntherapists, and physicians from Bogot\u00e1 (a city of ten million\r\npeople). Some students and professors (engineering and design) from\r\nother Bogot\u00e1 Universities also attended.\r\n\r\n<img class="" style="float: right;" src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2006-09_05\/5-1.jpg" width="286" height="160" hspace="4" vspace="4" \/>\r\n\r\nThe conference, which included patient evaluation, casting, and fitting portions, as well as practical theory, was a resounding success. However, what was even more important was that it was a focus of cooperation between people of several organizations. It stimulated excitement, additional discussions, and visions of what better O&P education could accomplish to improve orthopedic\/rehabilitation care in Colombia.\r\n\r\nIt now appears that O&P education programs will be\r\nestablished in both Centro Don Bosco, in Bogot\u00e1, and at\r\nEscuela Colombiana de Rehabilitaci\u00f3n (ECR), also in\r\nBogot\u00e1. The Centro Don Bosco program will be oriented toward\r\ntechnician training. The program at ECR will be more tailored to\r\ntraining clinical practitioners. ECR currently educates all of the\r\nrehabilitation professional specialties (physical therapy,\r\noccupational therapy, audiology, speech therapy, etc.) and has a\r\npatient care component. Both Don Bosco and ECR will draw upon the\r\nconsiderable professional resources available in Bogot\u00e1, but\r\nthey also will benefit from the help and cooperation we can provide\r\nfrom the North. I sincerely hope we will support these programs in\r\na variety of ways.\r\n\r\nSincerely,\r\n\r\n<b><i>J. Martin Carlson, CPO\r\nTamarack President\r\nBlaine, MN<\/i><\/b>\r\n\r\nP.S. My daughter accompanied me to Bogot\u00e1 for this\r\nconference and sightseeing opportunities. We traveled around much\r\nof Bogot\u00e1 and into the countryside in the vicinity. We always\r\nexperienced wonderful hospitality and very friendly people. We felt\r\nentirely safe at all times.