Master's program in orthotics and prosthetics prepares to welcome students

March 1, 2013

A trailer full of equipment for BCM’s new Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics was donated to the college.
A trailer full of equipment for BCM’s new Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics was donated to the college.

A learning lab that will be an integral part of BCM's new Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics program has been fully outfitted thanks to generous donations from several organizations.

The lab is one of several developments in the program as it moves toward welcoming its first class of students this summer.

The program trains orthotists and prosthetists, who design, build, fit, and maintain prosthetic limbs and custom orthopedic appliances for individuals with limb loss and physical impairments. These conditions may result from congenital conditions, disease or trauma. It is one of five in the country to offer a Master of Science degree in orthotics and prosthetics.

Equipment for the orthotics and prosthetics learning lab.
Equipment for the orthotics and prosthetics learning lab.

Important progress that has been made recently includes receiving approval for candidacy for accreditation through the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education, with full accreditation expected later as students are enrolled. In addition, interviews are being conducted for the first class of 18 students. There were 67 applicants for the program, and of those, more than 40 were invited for interviews, according to Josh Utay, CPO, assistant director of the program. Their average GPA is between 3.5-3.6, with the top 18 applicants having an average around 3.8.

Curriculum cornerstone

Curriculum for the 30-month master's program is also in the process of being developed. The curriculum integrating the dual discipline residency is one of the ways in which the BCM program stands apart from others in the country, Utay said.

It will include 12 months of didactic curriculum that will encompass classroom and lab learning as well as structured patient contact. The curriculum will cover the areas of basic science, foundations of orthotics and prosthetics clinical practice, and core orthotic and prosthetic classes focusing on the spine and upper and lower limbs.

The didactic curriculum will be followed by an additional 18 months of training that includes four core rotations and clinical specialization. This will give students experience with different institutions and specialties within the Texas Medical Center and potentially beyond, Utay said. Students will be able to customize portions of the final six months of training based on their area of interest.

"This integrated clinical training is the cornerstone of our program," Utay said. "We're the first and currently the only program in the country to offer the clinical residency experience in a pre-graduate structure."

Support and donations

"Development of the master’s program has been possible thanks to support from Dr. Paul Klotman and the School of Allied Health Sciences as well as generous donations from various organizations to equip the learning lab," Utay said.

The 4,000-square-foot learning lab will include all the necessary equipment for students to learn how to fabricate and fit custom orthotic and prosthetic devices. This includes tools that students will keep upon graduation, ovens for molding plastics and sewing equipment for Velcro and leather straps. A machine room will include a grinder, band saw, drill press, shoe machine, sand blaster and industrial strength dust collector. In addition, the facility will include dedicated classroom space.

Donations of more than $500,000 for the facility came from Anatomical Concepts Inc., Becker Orthopedic, Freedom Innovations, LLC, Hanger, Inc., Orthomerica Products, Inc., Otto Bock U.S. Healthcare and the Dr. Scholl Foundation.