PT and O&P: Mutual Objectives

The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists announced in November that it will invest $210,000 in orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) research initiatives.

The Academy hopes to develop new protocols to enhance patient care standards and increase insurance reimbursement, according to a press release. Last month, the Academy held a State-of-the-Science Conference in Florida on “Body Powered vs. Myoelectric Upper Extremity Prostheses.” Subject matter experts convened for two days to discuss the topic.

“Currently, there is insufficient evidence regarding the functional differences in upper-limb prostheses,” said M. Jason Highsmith, PT, DPT, PhD, CP, FAAOP, chair of the research council and immediate past president of the Academy, in the release. “This State-of-the-Science Conference will help to inform upper-limb prosthesis selection and design to ensure that patients experience the best functional benefit for their specific needs.”

A future conference on transtibial prostheses has been planned, as well as funding for a systematic review on people who use ankle-foot orthoses post-stroke. The goal of these efforts, according to the Academy, is to improve clinical practice, select interventions suited to the needs of individual patients and inspire evidence-based care.

Physical therapists work hand-in-hand with O&P practitioners to return full function to patients impaired by an amputation, degenerative condition or neurological disease that limits use of one’s limbs. They examine biomechanics, make suggestions regarding proper fit and alignment, devise compensatory strategies and instruct on proper care and maintenance of the device.

For this reason, O&P research informs and validates the field of physical rehabilitation as well.

“The Academy is making a significant investment in the future of O&P clinical care,” declared Rick Miller, CO, FAAOP, president of the Academy. “I am thrilled that we are taking a leading role in developing research opportunities across such a broad range of focus areas.”

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