Archive for the ‘Orthotics & Prosthetics’ Category

About 25 prospective and current students attended the college’s Public Policy and Administration information session, held earlier this month.

Public policy pic

A crowd takes part in St. Petersburg College’s Public Policy and Administration information session held July 8.

St. Petersburg College is hosting a series of information sessions in July targeting several programs. Upcoming sessions are:

The Public Policy and Administration information session, held July 8, offered those interested a chance to learn about the program, which provides a foundation in policy formulation, implementation and analysis.

Another session, this time focused on the Elite Educator program, was held July 10. This program is a partnership between SPC and Pinellas County Schools and provides graduates with a paid internship and job with PCS when they successfully complete it.

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Bay News 9 reported on the college’s new Orthotics and Prosthetics Technology Associate Degree, which will be available to students this fall. Program Director Arlene Gillis was interviewed for the story and said the degree, the only one of its kind in the state, will “teach students the fundamentals of designing and fabricating prosthetic and orthotic devices.”

Research suggests the number of patients who will need this kind of care is increasing and current practitioners are retiring.

News about the degree also was posted in oandp.com, SmartBrief and Healio.com.

Video from the report also is available on the college’s YouTube channel.

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St. Petersburg College, a national leader in orthotics and prosthetics training, is accepting applications through June 30 for its new two-year Associate in Science degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics Technology, the first and only associate degree for orthotic and prosthetic technicians in Florida.

Register Now
For our info session:
Monday, July 14
4-6 p.m.

Health Education Center
Apply for admission by June 30

The coursework, offered at SPC’s $11 million J.E. Hanger College of Orthotics and Prosthetics at the Health Education Center, meets a growing demand for certified technicians who can fabricate, repair and maintain quality orthotics and prosthetics under the direction of certified orthotists and prosthetists. The college has had a bachelor’s degree program in orthotics and prosthetics since 2005. This degree expands the options for students.

Unknown“St. Petersburg College is the only educational institution in the United States to offer orthotic and prosthetic education of all levels and scopes,” said Program Director Arlene Gillis. “Our Comprehensive Innovation Center houses O&P continuing education courses, certificate classes, an associate degree, bachelor’s degree and master’s level education. Having a complete orthotic and prosthetic career ladder means that SPC is a ‘one-stop shop’ for O&P education and students can enter the field in a variety of ways, adding to their credentials if they choose to continue their education.”

Orthotics and Prosthetics is an expanding health care field that involves evaluating, fabricating and custom fitting artificial limbs and orthopedic braces to help rehabilitate patients with disabling conditions. Demand for O&P professionals who can treat conditions brought on by age and rising rates of obesity and diabetes continues to grow, as do the educational requirements.

A recent study by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education estimates that without an increase in O&P graduates, the number of practicing orthotists can serve just 61% of patients who need them. The study also projects the number of people using prostheses to increase by 50%. Currently, more than 54 million people experience functional limitations due to impairment or health conditions.

Careers in orthotics and prosthetics include practitioners (certified orthotists and certified prosthetists), pedorthists, assistants, fitters and technicians. The practitioner level provides comprehensive care, including assessment, treatment plans and practice management, and requires a master’s degree. Those who assist practitioners at various levels need post-secondary training and certifications.

Last year, SPC received part of an $11-million federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant aimed at expanding the number of trained, certified health care workers with expertise in orthotics and prosthetics.

In addition to the new A.S. degree, SPC also offers:

  • A Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics that can lead  to a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, with a specialization in Engineering Management of Orthotics and Prosthetics at Florida State University
  • Continuing education credits for O&P professional license renewals
  • Mastectomy and Orthotic Fitter certificates that can apply to the associate degree

To help students master the computerized planning process, materials fabrication and professional patient skills they need on the job, SPC offers extensive facilities. These include 5,151 square feet of lab space with 48 individual work stations, 12 specialized fabrication devices, an overhead and wall projector system, and four industrial sewing machines; and 3,443 of lab support space for CAD/CAM systems, machining, laminating, plastering, thermal forming, mill/lathe and material testing.

For more information or to apply for the Orthotics and Prosthetics program, go to www.spcollege.edu/op or call 727-341-4153.

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The Tampa Tribune reported on the story of Army Sgt. 1st Class Billy Costello who, with the help of St. Petersburg College’s J.E. Hanger College of Orthotics and Prosthetics, is designing a device that would allow him to return to the level of activity he had as a Green Beret combat diver.

On Sept. 20, 2011, Costello stepped on an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. He lost his right leg above the knee.

Arlene Gillis, the college’s Orthotics and Prosthetics program director, is coordinating the effort. SPC is part of a consortium with Florida State University offering a master’s in industrial engineering, a specialization in the management of orthotics and prosthetics, the Tribune reported.

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St. Petersburg College’s recent research on underwater prosthetics in the Florida Keys with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge was recently detailed in O&P Business News.

The online publication is produced by Healio.com, an in-depth specialty clinical information website featuring news reporting, multimedia and question-and-answer columns.

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pirate_campAmputee youth from ages 4 to 17 joined their friends, families and 25 students from St. Petersburg College’s Orthotics and Prosthetics program at the Second Annual Adaptive Sailing Never Say Never Pirate Camp in Clearwater in October.

Sponsored by the Never Say Never Foundation, Pirates of the Care Free Being and Sailability Greater Tampa Bay, the three-day event was held at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center. Events were designed to teach ocean appreciation and sailing skills and the importance of following dreams. SPC students helped with the obstacle course and mobility and agility exercises and offered pilates sessions to the kids.

SPC senior Shanna Rousseau was as excited as event organizers because SPC’s attendance meant kids would get more individual attention.

“Any time I can work with kids, it’s uber rewarding because they don’t really think of themselves as having disabilities,” Rousseau said. “They can do anything.”

Last year, 11 families and 23 aspiring pirates took part in the event. The camp is supported solely through donations, which means campers and their families participate at no cost.

“This is a great event to help pediatric amputees and the community,” said Arlene Gillis, program director of the J.E. Hanger College of Orthotics & Prosthetics Program at SPC. “It’s really an amazing learning opportunity and allows our students to give back.”

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Bay News 9 aired a segment that featured the college’s Orthotics and Prosthetics program.

SPC recently has been awarded a series of grants including $3.5 million in federal workforce grants, one for logistics/supply chain management training and another for orthotics and prosthetics career education.

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Marmeduke Loke and Caitlyn Collins help Holly Crabtree learn to use her new state-of-the-art brace

For Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman Holly Crabtree, just standing up is sometimes a victory.

On April 15, 2010, on a mission in Iraq, she was shot in the head while providing critical and life-saving medical care to Navy SEALS during an ambush. She barely survived.

Today, Holly remains paralyzed along the right side of her body, has difficulty with memory and reading, and is unable to type on a keyboard.

At SPC’s Orthotics and Prosthetics lab, she is re-learning to walk using a new cutting-edge orthotic brace that promises more balance and stability and fewer falls. For her and future patients, this new technology offers greater hope of returning to a somewhat normal gait.

“It’s not just a brace, it’s a solution,” said Caitlyn Collins, who is working with Holly while completing her residency in orthotics. Collins earned her bachelor’s degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics from SPC in May. “We are truly fixing the problem.”

For David Olson, who took Crabtree on a packrafting adventure to Alaska with the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge in July, the new brace shows promise of what’s to come.

“We can eventually map these braces to the brain, so all she has to do is think about how to walk and it will happen,” said Olson, a retired Navy captain who started the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge two years ago to improve the lives of wounded and injured veterans through outdoor challenges. “Right now, she has to un-learn the movements she’s been using to walk and learn new ones.”

Crabtree was initially fitted by the Veterans Administration with a traditional thermoplastic brace for her foot to help her walk. As she got stronger, however, she began overpowering it, which slowed her down. Olson, Collins and Crabtree’s VA team sought a solution that returned energy to her limbs and found it with this fairly new technology that uses carbon fiber instead of plastic.

They settled on a product developed by Marmaduke Loke’s Dynamic Bracing Solutions in San Diego. Loke came to SPC this week to work with Holly as she begins using the brace.

“For our students, this is wonderful exposure to see how their learning can really impact someone’s quality of life,” said Arlene Gillis, program director for the Orthotics and Prosthetics program. “It’s a multi-disciplinary approach as many of us are focused on getting Holly to where she needs to be – without this she would not advance. In this field, we have the ability to completely change someone’s life by the service and product we provide. “

In Her Own Words:

O&P graduate Caitlyn Collins shares what she was thinking and feeling Wednesday as months of work culminated in fitting wounded veteran Holly Crabtree with a brace they hope will help restore her mobility

holly1-2 After months of anticipation and countless conversations, we are finally going to fit the brace of the century. Fingers crossed that it works…

As I wait Wednesday morning, I think about how, six months ago, I met a wonderful, inspiring veteran who pushed me to make her life easier. Three years ago, Chief Hospital Corpsman Holly Crabtree was shot in the head while she was aiding her fallen comrades in Iraq. Because of her wound, she then suffered two massive stokes. These injuries left her with many physical and mental struggles.

She now has a very hard time walking. All she wants to do is be a benefit to society and keep up with her 7-year-old daughter.

When she came into SPC to talk to our program director about a trip she was taking to Alaska with a group called Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge, it was quickly decided that something needed to be done for her.

After meeting Holly for the first time and seeing her struggle just to walk, all I wanted to do was help her after all she had done for us (as a soldier). After all the research and debates on which brace would be best for Holly, the struggle to get the support to get the awesome veteran fit with the brace she needs and deserves, and finally arranging to get everyone together to achieve our goals, it was time Wednesday to show Holly what we have done.

I know there will be months of work and training for Holly after this, but I’m ready to see some results!

As Holly comes into the evaluation room, I can tell how excited she is. She just wants to get this brace on and get to walking. We quickly got her to realize that our goal is to get her away from her bad walking habits and to begin to walk using less energy so eventually she can go faster and further. But to get there, she is going to have to practice, practice, practice!holly4-21

Not only did she have a downer hearing all that, but then we realize the shoes she has will not work for the brace. So we went shoe shopping! When we finally got back and were ready to fit the brace, there was an audience there to watch her. Usually that doesn’t bother her, but I could tell all she wanted to do is focus on conquering her walking.

It is so eye-opening to watch someone who has run out in front of flying bullets to help her comrades without hesitation try to conquer something as small as walking. It becomes terrifying to her. It really makes me be in awe of what she has had to overcome on a daily basis and how much courage she has to try to make her life better.

Once we got the shoes and made some adjustments so everything was comfortable, she began her walking training. Even though I haven’t seen her walk yet, my doubts are already disappearing. Just to see how slow he is taking the training and everything he is doing to make sure she is learning the correct form from the beginning. I know with this much training and practice, there is no way she could not succeed.

The more I see of these cutting edge devices, the more I’m convinced this is the future of the orthotic world.

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OrthoticsProstheticsSt. Petersburg College is “blazing a trail” in the areas of orthotics and prosthetics with its Comprehensive Innovation Center, according to a report on downtownstpete.ilovetheburg.com.

“This was my number one priority for the 2013 Legislative session,” State Rep. Kathleen Peters said in the article. Peters was one of the main supporters for the college’s program, the article stated.

“With the construction and soon to be operation of St. Petersburg College’s Center of Excellence, this budding, cutting-edge, local industry is something to keep our eyes on,” according to the article.

Earlier this year, Florida Sen. Jack Latvala and others from area colleges and organizations toured the J. E. Hanger College of Orthotics and Prosthetics at SPC’s Caruth Health Education Center. The tour was part of the college’s effort to launch a nationally recognized center in orthotics and prosthetics. The college reported there is an increasing need for O&P care due to issues such as a growth in reports of arthritis, obesity and diabetes in the country as well as the number of amputees returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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By Michael L. McCauley

Licensed Certified Orthotist and Board Eligible Prosthetist

St. Petersburg College O&P Class of 2011

Recently I had the opportunity through the St. Petersburg College Orthotics & Prosthetics program and the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge (CWVC) to go on an expedition to the Florida Keys and conduct a case study on veterans and their prosthetic swim legs. Who would pass that up?!

I spent a week there diving, taking video and collecting data on each of these amazing men. The week was one of the greatest things I have ever experienced. To sum up the trip, I feel like I could write hundreds of pages but just to give you a glimpse, here is a summary of just one day.

It’s Sunday morning. Forty to fifty people stand around in the sun and around the pool. Some are media there for a news story. Amputees set up their scuba equipment. Videographers set up some cameras. The EMT’s get their machines ready. Some are there for no other reason but to watch.

And then there is me: young and very nervous, about to conduct my first field case study. Am I at this level? I don’t know.

What questions are they going to ask me? Is this going to run as smoothly as it does in my head? Are they going to listen? Am I going to say the right things? Hundreds of questions and doubts pulsate through my brain.

Regardless of how I feel at this exact little moment, it is about to change. I cruise with my eyes along the pool and see the wounded veterans setting up their equipment and the subtle differences they do in the process that prove that they have adapted.

These guys have had their legs and arms taken away while they were giving our country their best and yet their drive is unchanged. The inspiration hits me right in the chest and I think to myself: “Can I not adapt to this moment, too?”

Of course I can.

So with a long deep breath, I feel prepared and ready. Actually, not only am I prepared, but I am pumped and I need to do this. Not for me. Not for my school. Not for an academic paper I’m going to write.

I need to do this so these guys and others like them can have better lives. I can feel the challenge standing in front of me with boxing gloves on. Let’s do this!

The challenge and inspiration continue through the morning as I swim beside these guys in the pool with and without their prosthetics on. Look at them go! Never once did I hear ANY of them complain. Really? I think to myself…I am exhausted…and this guy just did 50 meters with no legs.

If I did not have my regulator in my mouth, my jaw would be dropped. These guys are outstanding and we breeze through the trials we need to conduct with no quirks. The study at the pool concludes and BOOM! We have data that has never been gathered before!

I gather information on these guys as they dive in three different planes of view, their starting and finishing heart rates, blood pressure, swim techniques, their times, speed, and soon I will have their efficiency. All with and without their prosthetics. Although it takes three long hours and I am sunburned, I could not ask for a more smooth and productive day for my case study.

As I sit on the bench with an imaginary hand patting me on the back, I overhear discussions of a group of people going to dive the Vandenberg, a 522-foot World War II transport ship that was intentionally sunk off the coast of the Keys several years ago. It is a sought-out dive for many thrill-seeking divers all over the world.

Let me set this scene for you. I am again surrounded by men and women with years and years of not just diving but technical diving skills. They tower over the “recreational diver”. Most of them do not even know how many dives they have been on because they stopped counting.

Chris Corbin, a bilateral transtibial amputee and an Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class, gives his best guess of “somewhere between 900-1000”. And again, there is me — a monster of a diver with 4 total dives. None of which were in salt water. I know what you’re thinking and please just keep it to yourself. So, I am approached and asked if I would like to go. Feeling the same pump I felt earlier through my chest, I say, “Yes.”

We gather our equipment and head to the boats. Greg Miller, a dive instructor in Key West, starts our dive briefing and I begin feeling unprepared. I love diving and I love the water but I have never been to this depth. I have never dived in saltwater, and I have certainly never dived a shipwreck. The boats head out fast and the wind is loud which silences most conversation. All you are left with is yourself. The pondering and imagination steers in all directions.

Should I let Greg know that I am just going to stay on the boat?

We get to the site off Looe Key and you can envision the ship below you but the size and magnitude is only a guess. Above, the water looks just like it does anywhere else.

We get in the water and as we head over to the descent line, I think, “I have seen this on the Discovery Channel.”

Greg gives the go to head down and we form a single file line to grab the rope. Greg leads with Chris following, then myself followed by Will Wilson, a transtibial amputee and Navy Master Chief, and Roland Vaughn, an Army Ranger who suffered a traumatic brain injury. I am looking down this descent line with maybe 15 feet of visibility. It is almost as if it never ends. There is no ship to be seen and the rope just vanishes into the bluish green water.

As we continue down, I am constantly talking to myself and saying, “I can do this.” I try to concentrate on Chris and his prosthetic legs as he maneuvers down the line, studying what could be better or what could make this easier for him. The boat above is no longer visible.

And then there it was…the Vandenberg. I begin seeing the ship’s layout, the sheer size, and all the compartments. Wow, am I really doing this?

We began to penetrate into the ship, heading down an elevator shaft. Okay mark that off the list; I have now penetrated a shipwreck. We head through what looks like an office and then into a hallway that is darn near pitch black.

The entire time, my breathing is slow and controlled. At this moment, I have no worries in the world. I have no school loans, no credit card debt, no job, and no struggles at all. It is just me, the water, and this amazing ship. This is one of the coolest things I have ever done.

We ascend through the first deck up through a satellite dish and we sit there gazing at the ship’s beauty. We begin to pose for a picture with our CWVC banner as I saw Greg swimming fast toward Chris. Chris was holding his gauge, eyes huge. At 92 feet down, he has had an equipment malfunction. All his air is gone.

Greg acts as the dive master he is and begins to share air just as I had learned three weeks ago in my certification class. We begin our slow ascent knowing that Chris is okay and that everything is under control. I take advantage of the safety stops built into our dive plan to stare like a kid at the ship below me.

I feel I accomplished.

This was my first ocean dive, my fifth dive ever, and it’s the Vandenberg at 100 feet! I was challenged twice today and I was inspired more than I can count. I say it all the time but sometimes it means more than usual. It was a good day!

See photos from the trip on the college’s Facebook page.

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