An interesting facet to a career in orthotics and prosthetics is just how short the distance is between academic pursuits, clinical activities and commercial ventures. I believe that this situation is a very natural outgrowth of our very unique profession. It starts with becoming a practicing orthotist/prosthetist. From our first days as professionals, we are all developers of devices and techniques to creatively ameliorate the function of our patients. We innovate technology, we fabricate and then, in some form or another, we try to translate technology for the benefit of others through sharing. Most of us share collegially, some of us teach, some sell, some even write an article for the JPO! (Let's hope for more of those).
In other words, we are all very connected by a surprisingly close bond joining academic, clinical and commercial. Our colleagues create rich and varied resumés flowing between private practice, institutions and commercial ventures. The benefit of this bond is that it helps us to suspend our own clinical biases long enough to encourage presentation of another point of view. Similarly, we question concepts within the submissions from authors, whom many of us would know and respect personally. In O&P, it all seems quite natural. For the good of our patients, we easily question and accept the benefits of pure research alongside those of device development and commercialization.
Of course we need to be very diligent and careful about how we mix these benefits. Marketing messages can never replace serious study and analysis. The reader might be encouraged that there seems to be a trend of much improved research and publication from commercial entities. As a product of upgraded degree programs and residencies, O&P staff of any venture are simply better prepared to be contributing to the science of our field. I believe this trend will accelerate. In the long run, the JPO and its quality will rise with the training of its contributors and its readers.
For the JPO, our unique O&P bond creates an interesting editorial challenge. Because there are many legitimate points of view for the members of the Academy, we cannot rely entirely on pure academic research or clinical reporting or ignore the body of work specific to products or from commercial ventures. We address our challenge daily by focusing on the value of new content and evidence to advance the questions of our day. I hope you will find that by doing so, the JPO is impartially supporting all the academy members in their many and varied roles.
David A. Boone, CP, MPH, PhD
Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics