Earlier this month, four members of the eNable team traveled to Charlotte to attend the annual meeting of the North Carolina state chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (NC AAOP). The conference agenda was packed with discussions on clinical practice, presentations on innovative research methods, and demonstrations of the newest technology in the field.

We heard from researchers at the Bao Lab (Stanford) and the Hugh Herr lab (MIT-Harvard) about really exciting technology and procedures that will one day revolutionize how prosthetic devices integrate with the body. We also had a few hands-on (pun intended) opportunities to learn about the Neofect Smart Glove, a wearable rehabilitation tool, and the Coapt pattern recognition system, which integrates myoelectric sensing and motor control into a system that allows a range of movements, speeds, and adaptability.

Also on the lineup was a panel on 3D printing in the O&P field — featuring two of our members! Emily and Gabriel participated in this panel to contribute to a discussion on the unique role of 3D printing in this field, and to add the mission and philosophy of Duke eNable to this conversation.

Gabriel and Emily on the 3D panel, alongside Richard Chi, Tyler Dunham, Jeff Erenstone, Brent Wright, and Barry Hand.

The panel opened our eyes to a critical nuance in the language we use. Our members are neither prosthetists nor medical professionals, and as such we are not building “prostheses” or working with “patients.” Rather, we are designing and fabricating recreational or adaptive devices for our recipients. Another key takeaway from the discussion is the importance of maintaining positive relationships with prosthetists. We are lucky to have already made connections in this community, and through this conference we were introduced to many more people who could be great assets to our organization. At the end of the day, we believe that we have very similar goals to prosthetists themselves – we want to use our skills and resources to improve someone’s quality of life. As long as we are aware of our abilities and limitations, and open to constructive feedback, we are confident that Duke eNable can continue making a positive impact.

HANDS down, ONE of the best experiences we’ve had with Duke eNable!

We would like to thank the NC AAOP chapter president, Brittany Stresing, for the invitation to attend this meeting. We are also grateful to the Duke Engineering Alumni Council and the Lord Foundation for their financial support, which made this experience possible.