Magazine article Techniques

Francis Tuttle's Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician Program

Magazine article Techniques

Francis Tuttle's Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician Program

Article excerpt

The Francis Tuttle name has long been associated with career and technical education. As director of Oklahoma's State Department of Vocational and Technical Education for almost two decades, Dr. Tuttle pioneered the way for career and technical education nationwide. His progressive ideas continue to flourish at the Francis Tuttle Technology Center, where success is found through academic studies such as those offered in its Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician Program.

In the Beginning

The wholeness of man both spiritually and physically is a quest. This is most evident in the evolution of orthotics and prosthetics. History shows that the search for workable solutions to the ailments of man existed as far back as 210 B.C., when Pliny the Elder wrote about the Roman general, Marcus Sergius, who had suffered a right arm amputation and had an iron hand created to aid him in holding his shield for his return to battle.

The years between 1600 and 1800 brought several advancements in the medical field. The invention of blood clotting styptics, tourniquets, anesthesia and other drugs gave the injured time to heal, allowing early orthotists and prosthetists time to fabricate functional aids to improve the quality of life in making patients "whole" once again.

It was during this time that doctors such as the Dutch surgeon Pieter Verduyn introduced the first non-locking, below-the-knee prosthesis, and Douglas Bly invented and patented his famous Doctor Bly's anatomical leg. Doctors, researchers and inventors such as Dubois Parmlee, Gustav Hermann, Heather Bigg and many others have contributed to the advancement of orthotics and prosthetics in some way.

Through the centuries, there have been some remarkable changes during the evolution of orthoses and prostheses. The heavy and cumbersome devices of yesteryear have been replaced with today's lightweight plastics, making movement for individuals with disabilities an easier task. But there have also been changes in the education and training of orthotic and prosthetic technicians. Training technicians in the field goes way beyond the ancient art of splint and brace making. Areas of study include everything from the human anatomy to polymer processes. The Francis Tuttle program provides a comprehensive education in all disciplines for the aspiring orthotist or prosthetist technician.

Francis Tuttle's Program

The Francis Tuttle Orthotic and Prosthetic (O&P) Program was nationally accredited by NCOPE (National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education) in the spring of 2001. Student enrollment in the program has seen a steady increase, with average enrollment around 30 students per year over a five-year period.

The goal of the Francis Tuttle O&P program is to produce highly skilled and knowledgeable O&P technicians able to provide professional technical support to clinical prosthetists and orthotists. Francis Tuttle educates and trains these burgeoning O&P technicians through strong academics, laboratory and clinical experience.

The program overview starts with the basics--an explanation of what these highly skilled technicians do. O&P technicians assist individuals with disabilities by fabricating the orthopedic braces (orthoses) and artificial limbs (prostheses) necessary for rehabilitation. The O&P technician supports the O&P practitioner by providing the technical tasks of fabrication of the orthotic and prosthetic devices used in patient care. Under the guidance of the practitioner, the technician may fabricate, repair and maintain these invaluable devices.

The curriculum begins with the study of technical human anatomy and physiology. Orthotic prosthetic equipment and materials are introduced, and depending on whether the student is taking the path of the orthotic tech or the prosthetic tech--or as in most cases, both--the program content varies. For the orthotic tech, emphasis will be placed on more studies in the areas of lower, upper and spinal orthoses. …

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