The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) brought its annual National Assembly to the home of the Space Needle this year. The September 20-23 event, held at the Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington, demonstrated the show’s theme, that for O&P, “The Future is Now.”
The buzz among attendees was on major themes of the profession, including reimbursement, technology, evidence-based practice, education, practice management, and healthcare reform.
In the General Session, Clement Bezold, PhD, founder of the Institute for Alternative Futures, Alexandria, Virginia, spoke about his research group’s calculations for O&P’s next 11 years. He noted that in 2010, approximately 140,000 amputations will likely be performed in the United States. His institute predicts that 2020 could see as many as 200,000 amputations, or as few as 125,000, depending on factors including rising obesity and potential cures for diabetes. Many of the education sessions that followed provided information that could help the profession prepare for either scenario.
During the AOPA Strategic Initiatives Update, a team of presenters led by Brian Gustin, CP, 2009 AOPA president, discussed how AOPA’s 11 strategic initiatives are contributing to that process. One contribution was this year’s creation of a Center for O&P Learning and Outcomes Evidence-Based Practice. Erin Thomson, MPH, a researcher from the Jefferson School of Population Health (JSPH), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, described a pilot project funded by the center and now under way, a feasibility study toward the establishment of an O&P patient registry. If deemed feasible, the registry could provide the profession a large pool of data for evidence-based practice
The Thranhardt Lecture Series provided more potential resources for evidence-based practice. In a presentation titled “The Forgotten Prosthetic History of the Vietnam War,” Charles King, CP, and Gerald W. Mayfield, MD, offered an x-ray presentation of 51 physiologically similar above-knee amputees that was developed at Fitzsimmons General Hospital, Aurora, Colorado, in 1974. The data, lost for 33 years, will soon become available as a special addition to the AOPA library.
Another popular subject was AOPA’s vision of the “Ideal Office of the Future,” which AOPA brought to life in the form of a life-sized walk-through model on the exhibit hall floor. The use of paperless practice-management software, care-extender personnel, computer-aided design (CAD), and central fabrication services were displayed, with exhibits explaining each feature.
Commercial exhibitors offered highlights of their own. Touch Bionics, Livingston, Scotland, celebrated the fitting of its 1,000th i-LIMB Hand system. On September 23, Arizona AFO, Mesa, Arizona; Branier Orthopedic Shoes, Sebring, Florida; and the O&P Political Action Committee (PAC) staged a game of Deal or No Deal. The game brought the O&P PAC approximately $25,000 in ticket sales, and Tonya Wade of Lohmann & Rauscher, Rengsdorf, Germany, took home $10,000.
Being in Seattle, one of the nation’s hotspots for seafood, art, and culture, AOPA also provided opportunities to enjoy coastal specialties. On September 23, Johnny Yokoyama, owner of the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market, provided a final highlight-a talk on guiding businesses with love and intentionality. He and his team drove the point home with an audience-participation demonstration of their famous fish-throwing technique.
James A. Kaiser, CP, AOPA president-elect summed up the spirit of the 2009 assembly, saying, “The question we need to ask ourselves as we move forward, every time we take a step, is if the decision is in the best interest of our patients…. If we say ‘Yes, this is in the best interest of our patients,’ then we know it’s in the best interest of O&P.”
Next year’s AOPA National Assembly is scheduled for September 29-October 2, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.
To view exclusive videos from the AOPA National Assembly, visit the oandp.com video page.