The Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC), Chicago, Illinois, has published the results of its 2012 State of the Science (SOS) survey in anticipation of its next State of the Science meeting that will be held later this year. NUPOC is required to conduct an SOS as part of the Northwestern University Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (NURERC) for Prosthetics and Orthotics that is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The goal of this meeting is to assess the state of research and explore new directions for research in the P&O field.
The majority of the survey focused on respondents’ opinions of different aspects of P&O research. A comparison to a 2006 SOS survey was also provided. Many of the questions on the 2012 survey were similar to those administered in the 2006 survey. The survey results were presented by James Schweitzer (2012 NURERC Scholar) and Stefania Fatone, PhD, BPO (Hons), a research associate professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at NUPOC. A summary of the survey results follows:
- The 2012 NUPOC SOS survey drew 377 responses as compared to 224 responses in 2006, a majority of whom identified themselves as orthotists and prosthetists.
- The proportion of respondents who considered research to be important was 93.4 percent in 2012 vs. 98.2 percent in 2006.
- However, the proportion of respondents who believed that the amount of P&O research was lacking decreased to 62.1 percent in 2012 from 79.9 percent in 2006. Similarly, the proportion of respondents who thought that the emphasis of P&O research was lacking decreased (45 percent in 2012 vs. 61.2 percent in 2006). The results suggest that perceptions about the amount and appropriateness of research that is focused on P&O have improved over the last five years.
- The 2012 survey showed an improved perception about the availability of research funding.
- There was a 14 percent increase in the percentage of respondents who indicated that they had not participated in or conducted research.
- More than 75 percent of respondents in both cohorts answered “yes” when asked if they could identify areas where research is needed but lacked the ability or resources to carry out that research.
When asked to rank the top five areas where research should be directed, the two surveys identified the most important research topics almost identically. For both P&O, outcome measures were identified as the most important category needing future research. In both the 2012 and 2006 surveys, other top orthotics research categories were AFOs and fabrication/materials; while the top prosthetics research categories were socket/interface and control of the prosthesis.
Editor’s note: This story has been adapted from materials provided by the Northwestern University Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, as published in the summer 2012 quarterly newsletter Capabilities.