We have the great pleasure of working with very talented and dedicated Certified Prosthetists & Orthotists across the globe. These individuals are forging the future of prosthetic and orthotic care and embracing technology to give their patients the best.
In this interview, we spoke with Lauren Brousseau, a certified prosthetist with Medical Center Orthotics & Prosthetics, working as a civilian contractor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She talks to us about starting her career in “an optimistic atmosphere” thanks to the incredibly technological advancements at her fingertips.
Lauren recently joined UNYQ at the White House for a very special event on Inclusive Design, Assistive Technology & Prosthetics.
Lauren Brousseau & Ian Fothergill from MCOP, alongside Retired U.S. Marine, Kyle Garcia and UNYQ team members at the White House in September 2016.
Lauren, why did you decide to become a CPO?
Growing up with two parents in Army medicine, I was always comfortable in military hospitals and knew I wanted to work in one someday. I think in college I was able to recognize my strengths but didn’t know how to apply them into a career until I stumbled across a small prosthetics facility at MCG Hospital.
This field combines medicine with engineering, art, and patient care, which I thought was fascinating. I was immediately drawn towards its connection with the military and applied to be an intern at Walter Reed Medical Center. From there, I never turned back!
How have new technologies impacted you since starting your career in prosthetics?
I feel fortunate I starting working in prosthetics while this field was seeing rapid growth in technology. It’s exciting to be able to apply new technologies, that may have not existed a few years ago, to improve patient outcomes. This field is constantly evolving, and I’ve realized how important it is to keep up with that so that I can provide my patients with the latest innovations. Likewise, I think it also creates an optimistic atmosphere knowing that technology will continue to grow and improve in the future.
Specifically, what new technologies do you use on a regular basis on the job?
Recently I’ve been utilizing smartphone apps more and more in fittings. I apply these apps to adjust the functionality of certain knees and feet and also to access outcome reports. I also frequently use the UNYQ app to order custom prosthetic covers for my patients. It’s incredibly convenient being able to use my phone, rather than some sort of scanning device such as CAD/CAM, to take pictures of the person and prosthesis to create 3D printed cosmetic covers.
Lauren fits her patients for custom-shaped prosthetic covers using the UNYQ App. The app replaces the need for expensive scanners and allows CPOs to provide personalized covers that match the shape of their patient’s sound limb.
The ultimate goal of technological advancement is to make an impact on people’s lives. How have you seen new technologies improve the lives of your patients?
I think you can approach technology advancements in this field from a few different angles. You have the surgical side, where in recent years we’ve seen developments in procedures such as limb lengthening and osseointegration. There’s the engineering portion where advancements in socket design, feet, knees, etc. have undeniably improved the lives of patients. Finally, there is a recent movement to visually and cosmetically enhance prosthetics.
Thankfully the days of feeling ashamed or embarrassed by a prosthetic are quickly fading. I think less and less people are trying to hide that they are missing a limb by covering it with a flesh colored foam cover. However, everyone wants to feel comfortable in their own skin and I think UNYQ covers offer that confidence booster. They are both visually appealing and provide symmetry to the body.
Lauren discussed prosthetic innovation with UNYQ’s CEO & the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy Senior Advisor in September.
You recently participated in #DesignForAll. What was it like going to the White House for this special event?
Surprisingly for how long I’ve lived in DC, I’ve never been to the White House! It was an incredible experience first just being in the White House and second being able to sit in the audience for the Design for All fashion show. I was humbled by those who took the initiative to develop assistive technology and inclusive fashion for themselves or others with disabilities. It was fascinating to hear from the innovative minds behind what was being showcased, and I’m very excited to see how their products progress in the future.
As a newer member of the community of O&P professionals, what is one thing you didn’t learn in school that you have learned on the job that you would like to share with prosthetists in training?
I don’t think anyone can prepare you for the actual interactions and relationships you will develop with patients. Coping with limb loss can be extremely difficult, and as prosthetist you are an integral part in a person’s physical, psychological, and emotional journey. This field requires patience and perseverance, and it is necessary to be willing to listen, learn, and evolve. In turn, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever be a part of.