This position paper outlines the important role of academia in shaping the orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) profession and preparing for its future. In the United States, most healthcare professions including O&P are under intense pressure to provide cost effective treatments and quantifiable health outcomes. Pivotal changes are needed in the way O&P services are provided to remain competitive. This will require the integration of new technologies and data driven processes that have the potential to streamline workflows, reduce errors and inform new methods of clinical care and device manufacturing. Academia can lead this change, starting with a restructuring in academic program curricula that will enable the next generation of professionals to cope with multiple demands such as the provision of services for an increasing number of patients by a relatively small workforce of certified practitioners delivering these services at a reduced cost, with the expectation of significant, meaningful, and measurable value. Key curricular changes will require replacing traditional labor-intensive and inefficient fabrication methods with the integration of newer technologies (i.e., digital shape capture, digital modeling/rectification and additive manufacturing). Improving manufacturing efficiencies will allow greater curricular emphasis on clinical training and education - an area that has traditionally been underemphasized. Providing more curricular emphasis on holistic patient care approaches that utilize systematic and evidence-based methods in patient assessment, treatment planning, dosage of O&P technology use, and measurement of patient outcomes is imminent. Strengthening O&P professionals' clinical decision-making skills and decreasing labor-intensive technical fabrication aspects of the curriculum will be critical in moving toward a digital and technology-centric practice model that will enable future practitioners to adapt and survive.
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Kogler, Géza F.; and Hovorka, Christopher F.. 2021. Academia’s Role to Drive Change in the Orthotics and Prosthetics Profession. Canadian Prosthetics and Orthotics Journal. Vol.4(2). https://doi.org/10.33137/CPOJ.V4I2.36673