A new Orthotist and Prosthetist Assistant Studies (OPA) specialization is being offered within the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science (EXS) degree program in the Department of Human Movement Science at Oakland University.

Combining a unique blend of disciplines (human movement, materials science, and engineering), the 26-credit hour OPA specialization prepares students with the skills needed to serve patients in many ways similar to other healthcare providers. In addition, a new 18-credit OPA minor is available to students in any major across the university.

“The OPA program is a new program that offers the Health Science student a unique field blending patient care, rehabilitation, engineering elements of materials characteristics and biomechanical design and so much more.”

— Tamara Treanore, CO, founding director and special instructor of OPA

While patient care assessment for custom protocols, and the creation of a treatment plan and goals are the direct responsibility of the clinician, the role of the assistant is extensive. They work in collaboration with clinical orthotists and prosthetists, as well as other healthcare providers, to design, fit and modify orthotic and prosthetic devices. They also maintain a presence from the first assessment to follow up with the patient, encompassing the design, fabrication and fit of their devices.

“We are proud to be one of the first Orthotist and Prosthetist Assistant programs to be launched in the US and expect that it will serve as a model for others nationwide.”

— Daniel Goble, PhD, associate professor and coordinator of the Exercise Science program at OU

The OPA specialization is a professionally accredited field requiring post-graduate completion of a paid clinical residency. Candidates are eligible to sit for certification examination following the residency (several states also require licensure before allowing independent practice).

“This very hands-on field is the first BS program to be created in the field and is working with accrediting bodies for nationally recognized accreditation,” Treanore adds.

Oakland University is currently pursuing national accreditation of the OPA specialization through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). A site visit is planned for this fall.

For more information, visit Oakland University.

[Source(s): Oakland University, PR Newswire]