Wednesday, April 29, 2009

University of Hartford to offer new master's program in orthotics, prosthetics

From The Hartford Courant:

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — With aging baby boomers, escalating rates of obesity and diabetes and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fueling demand, the University
of Hartford
announced April 27 it will start a new master's program in orthotics and prosthetics.

The university will train students to assess and treat patients through physical therapy and teach them about the design and operation of orthotics and prosthetics in biomedical engineering classes.

The supportive devices have evolved dramatically over the years, with knees controlled by microprocessors, braces outfitted with Bluetooth devices that can send signals to nerves and prosthetic hands covered in a material that looks like human skin.With 9.7 million patients expected to need orthotics or artificial limbs by 2020, the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists is campaigning to increase the number of students entering the profession.

The university will partner with the Newington Certificate Program in Orthotics and Prosthetics to offer the program at both locations.The university currently offers a certificate in the field, but because the field is developing so quickly and broadly, the National Commission on Orthotic/Prosthetic Education now requires certificate programs to be elevated to a master's degree level by 2012.

The program will offer students two paths toward a master's degree. They can take the traditional route, earning the two-year master's of science after completing a bachelor's in health science, or they can enroll in a "three-plus-two" program that allows sophomores to earn their bachelor's and master's degrees together in five years. In both cases, students must also do a two-year residency.

Graduates can expect to earn $40,000 to $60,000 a year upon completing their residency, depending on the region and facility, said Matthew Parente, associate director of the program.

University of Hartford student Ryan Cline, 23, of Lee's Summit, Mo., is currently in the certificate program and is eager to earn his master's. An amputee himself, he played lacrosse and baseball in school and hopes to inspire his patients.

"I feel that my experiences can help others succeed," Cline said.