Custom orthotics are used across the spectrum of occupational therapy practice for many purposes, including immobilizing joints after surgery or injury, mobilizing stiff joints to increase function, and compensating for loss of motion due to nerve injury. Occupational therapy curricula typically include a degree of custom orthotic fabrication, but exposure is limited due to the broad range of content.
The Huntington University OTD Program recently hosted Gary Solomon, past president of the American Society of Hand Therapists and director of Chicago Metro Hand Therapy, for an advanced custom orthotic workshop. Solomon, a renowned expert in hand therapy and custom orthotics, provided a full-day hands-on lab including static, static-progressive, and serial casting techniques. OTD student Courtney Barker initiated the event. Barker reported, “The opportunity to attend the Hands-on Orthotics Workshop was beyond my expectations while preparing for a Level II rotation in a hand therapy setting. The advanced training allowed me to obtain substantial leverage as a student with further hands-on experience and increased confidence in my abilities for orthotic fabrication. This experience was one of the highlights during my OT education and was so valuable in my pursuit of hand therapy specialization!”
Solomon’s course was part of an American Society of Hand Therapists university outreach program designed to facilitate pursuit of the hand specialty. The Huntington University OTD Program was fortunate to be the first host site for an event of this nature geared towards current occupational therapy students. Huntington’s Hand Interest Club, a group OTD students formed to provide opportunities for advanced expertise in hand and upper extremity rehabilitation, facilitated the event as part of a broader agenda the club set forth for this academic year. The current club president, Kalin Hale, explained, “This experience was perfectly in line with the hand club’s agenda. We wanted to gain practical clinical skills and we all had a blast expanding our entry-level knowledge with Gary.”
Faculty members Nathan Short and Shelly Mays, both Certified Hand Therapists (CHTs), also facilitated the learning experience and were impressed with the advanced level of content and student engagement. According to Short, “To host an expert as well-known and experienced as Gary Solomon is a huge value added to our core curriculum for students with interest in the hand specialty. This course is advanced even for licensed clinicians, and our students demonstrated high-level professionalism and engagement with the advanced content. We hope to host this course or something similar on an annual basis.”