Archive for the ‘Orthotics & Prosthetics’ Category

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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Several news outlets published stories about the work of Michael L. McCauley, a graduate of SPC’s Orthotics and Prosthetics bachelor’s degree program, and O&P program director Arlene Gillis, who recently traveled to the Florida Keys with a group from the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge to conduct research on prosthetic swim legs.

The underwater study is one of four Gillis’ team is conducting with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, whose missions are now part of the school’s curriculum, the Tampa Tribune reported. Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge has partnered with SPC to find ways of building better prosthetics. In addition, participants on this study took part in an operation with a group of young divers from the Tampa Bay area to help restore the Gulf of Mexico’s population of staghorn coral, which was nearly wiped out a few years ago, according to the article.

The News-Press, Stars and Stripes, the Key West Citizen and the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota also carried the story.

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Perhaps you take swimming in the water that helps define the state of Florida for granted. For amputees without legs, however, just getting from a beach chair to the water’s edge can be forbidding.

“When they go to the beach they have to take their leg off and hop to the water,” said Michael L. McCauley, a graduate of St. Petersburg College’s Orthotics and Prosthetics bachelor’s degree program. “We want them to be able to swim without a care in the world like the rest of us. That’s my goal.”

Chris Corbin and Evan Olson participate in last year’s Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge trip to the Florida Keys.

Next week, McCauley and O&P program director Arlene Gillis will travel to the Florida Keys with a group from the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge to conduct research on prosthetic swim legs. McCauley will observe amputees swimming with and without their prosthetic legs to measure their air intake, heart rate and buoyancy and how long it takes to swim certain distances. The results will help improve prosthetics built for water and thereby the quality of life for amputees who want to pursue active lifestyles.

Founded in 2010, the CWCV works to improve the lives of wounded and injured veterans through rehabilitative challenges and to further the science related to their injuries and treatment. Some of their recent trips have taken them to glaciers in Alaska, the depths of the Grand Canyon and the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.

SPC O&P students and graduates have joined these trips to conduct research, such as anatomical reactions to changes in environment; the effects of stress, extreme weather and altitude on prosthetics, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and the effects of temperature change on overall pain levels, spastic moments in the lower extremity and hand function. McCauley’s love of the ocean has prompted him to focus on activities beyond land.

“There’s very limited research on underwater prosthetics,” said McCauley, who graduated from SPC in 2011 and manages an orthotics and prosthetics practice in Nashville. “Right now, they make swim legs just so they don’t rust. There’s so much more we can do, but we need the research.”

Technology advancements in just the past decade have helped transform modern prosthetics. Today, amputees can reasonably rely on their new limbs to help them conduct daily activities. Beyond that, however, sports like diving require specialized limbs that can be costly.

“Buoyancy is a pretty big deal,” McCauley said. “When we dive, we have to get neutrally buoyant. For amputees, we have to weigh the legs down so they can stay down.”

For his part, McCauley will focus partly on able-bodied swimmers to monitor their swimming styles, propulsion of kicks and angles of feet and knees. The information will help fine tune the mechanics used in the limbs.

The rest of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge group will assist SCUBAnauts International, a group of high school marine science students, in cleaning, monitoring and restoring underwater coral reefs in conjunction with MOTE Marine Research Laboratory. The veterans will also mentor the youths in military-centric dive training and underwater navigation under the supervision and instruction of elite United States Army Special Forces Combat Divers.

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Jared Caya

Jared Caya

Jared Caya, a 2010 orthotics & prosthetics bachelor’s degree graduate, discovered his true calling at St. Petersburg College.

When trying to decide on a major, I needed to discover what was important to me. What would make me wake up excited to go to work every morning? What would make me feel fulfilled? St. Petersburg College allowed me to answer all of these questions and more!

The summer of 2000, before my freshman year of high school, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Luckily, the tangerine-sized tumor was non-malignant. After two surgeries and being in All Children’s Hospital for several weeks, I was sent home tumor free. Despite being told that I must be homeschooled for at least six months, I was able to start at a public high school (after only one month of recovery) right on schedule.

When transferring from Dunedin High School to SPC, my stomach was in knots! My nerves were quickly settled, as I was lucky enough to take part in a program called Summer of Success, run by Student Support Services. This summer semester program allowed me to start college with a 4.0, create lifelong friendships, learn great life lessons and become very familiar with campus life and course offerings — all within one summer. This provided me with a great jump-start into my college career.

Despite not being very active within my high school, SPC brought me to life! I was active in Student Government, High Achievers, Student Support Services program and have also been a voluntary note taker for the Office for Services for Students with Disabilities. These extracurricular activities allowed me to discover myself and make lifelong friendships. Student Government allowed me to travel to great places, meeting local politicians both in the community and at the state capitol. I was able to get over my fear of public speaking by participating in Toast Masters (free of charge), participating in team-building rope courses and even camping in Disney! The list of positive experiences is countless.

I mistakenly transferred to another college (for family reasons only) after spending a year at SPC. I immediately regretted the decision as this other college did not come even close to providing me with a sense of community or learning experience as compared to SPC. After only one semester, I quickly returned to SPC. My SPC family welcomed me back with open arms and I was able to pick up right where I left off.

I began working (as a student worker) at the information desk as well as the fitness center, allowing me to obtain stronger communication skills. I was honored to have received several scholarships and financial aid from SPC, allowing me to continue my education with minimal expense.

All of these experiences lead me to feel the need to help others and become involved in changing the course of an individual’s life. During the spring semester of 2008, I was able to finish the prerequisite for the J.E. Hanger College of Orthotics and Prosthetics program. The beautiful Health Education Center provided me and 20 classmates with a brand new state-of-the-art orthotic & prosthetic lab and training facility.

The O&P program allowed us to have hands-on experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. While learning biomechanical effects of various orthotic and prosthetic devices on the human body, we were also experiencing the effect in real time, providing us with an in depth and well-rounded education. After graduating from the program with a B.A.S. in 2010, I quickly started and completed my one-year orthotic residency in Colorado Springs.

After sitting for and passing the American Board for Certification exams, I traveled to Massachusetts where I worked as a Certified Orthotist while completing my prosthetic residency. Moving to another part of the country allowed me to experience another part of the country and learn various techniques within the field. I am now back in Colorado where I work as a Certified Orthotist, manage the clinic and await upcoming prosthetic certification exams. Thanks to SPC, I have achieved more than I thought possible in a very short amount of time. The high tech laboratory at SPC allowed me to be on the cutting edge of functional electronic stimulation, CAD/CAM, and 3D scanning technologies all new and relevant to our field.

SPC not only provided me with a remarkable career and lifelong friends, it has given me a sense of who I am and what I am capable of. I will always be very thankful for what SPC has given me.

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