On March 11, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced two bills to the Senate to fund O&P research and education.
Senate Bill 521, called the Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act, would require, if passed, that the Secretary of Defense award grants to fund research on orthotics and prosthetics. Specifically, the purpose of the grants is to advance O&P clinical care for service members, veterans, and civilians who have undergone amputation, traumatic brain injury, and other serious physical injury as a result of combat or military experience and to carry out research on O&P patient outcomes, materials research, and technology research. The bill authorizes a fiscal-year 2014 appropriation of $30 million to carry this out.
Senate Bill 522, called the Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act, would require, if passed, that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs award grants from $1 million to $1.5 million to establish, or expand upon, O&P master’s degree or doctoral degree programs, and for other purposes. The bill would also award a $5 million grant to an eligible institution to establish a Center of Excellence in Orthotic and Prosthetic Education to develop an agenda for O&P education research, conduct O&P evidence-based research, and disseminate the research results.
According to a press release from Durbin’s office, “Each institution receiving one of these grants will require students to rotate through facilities run by the Departments of Veterans Affairs [VA] or Defense, or that hold VA contracts.”
“We’re doing amazing, miraculous things, but for the continual pace, we’ve got to continue to bring men and women into the field who can be right on the edge of finding those new discoveries,” Durbin said at a press conference in the Center for Bionics Medicine Lab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Illinois.
Each of the bills has been referred to their respective committees for further discussion.