The scant quantified knowledge base within the profession of prosthetics and orthotics (P&O) is due to a fundamental lack of research skills among clinical practitioners and educators within the profession. It is estimated that approximately 11% of individuals in the P&O profession possess a master's degree and less than 1% (about a dozen individuals) possess a terminal academic degree. The only way to address the disconnect between clinically relevant basic science and applied engineering research in P&O is to make a concerted effort to produce competent researchers who are sensitive to the clinical needs of the consumer requiring a prosthesis or orthosis as part of a comprehensive treatment plan of rehabilitative care. It is this need that provides the motivation for this training grant application. In a direct response to the profession's own recommendation (AERTI Report) to pursue the formulation of graduate training programs, a PhD training program focused on prosthetics and orthotics at the School of Applied Physiology at Georgia Tech is proposed. Twenty-five academic faculty from 10 separate schools at 3 Universities and 21 clinical faculty from the general Atlanta area will be engaged in a unique program of advanced research and education training. The purpose of the proposed program is to prepare independent scientists through predoctoral, multidisciplinary research training in the rehabilitation priority, specifically rehabilitation related to prosthetics and orthotics, of the movement sciences. The objective of this training is to provide an advanced theoretical basis in the biomechanics and neural control of movement for the skills required in rehabilitation research in the field of prosthetics and orthotics. Uniquely, Georgia Tech is in a position to advance the profession of prosthetics and orthotics in acquiring research skills and new knowledge through the integration of the only entry level masters program in P&O in the US and a PhD program rich in integrated research in the biomechanics and neural control of movement. A flexible curriculum with a series of required and elective classes is presented to accommodate basic undergraduate preparation in engineering and the life sciences as well as pre- and post-professional applicants in the field. The plan of study lasts from 4-5 years culminating in a PhD in Applied Physiology with a focus in prosthetics and/or orthotics.
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