There is a time in the development of new orthoses and prostheses, when it can suddenly all come together—when researchers surpass what they hope might be, and achieve what they dream about. I was reminded of this today when a patient, colleague, and friend looked at me profoundly and said, “This is the best my prosthesis has ever felt to me.” It was the ultimate reward in our latest work.
Thinking about how one gets to that point of success, I think back on a very long timeline. Edison spoke of inspiration and considerably more perspiration being required for invention. In almost every case, there are years and years of separate, unconnected thoughts that slowly coalesce into new ideas. We ponder what could be and more importantly, what should be. Collegial contacts prompt us and challenge our assumptions. And then, if we have the doggedness to see it through, there are hundreds of ways we test those ideas until failure and observation form solid concepts to build on. Yet, finishing is still far from certain. Usually it is the help of many colleagues that will make possible the actual creation of something wonderful.
For prosthetists and orthotists, I think the driving force to see us through is helping our patients achieve that experience of feeling better now than anytime since before their physical challenges. We measure success not by the object we make or how much it costs but rather by the simple human experience of how it helps someone feel better than they thought they could. As a profession, we are incredibly fortunate when we get to share that.
Thinking about it now makes me smile. I was just that fortunate today.
David A. Boone, CP, MPH, PhD
Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics