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From symposiums on robotic exoskeletons, the latest upper-limb prosthetic devices, and best practices in prosthetic care for amputee patients; to song and dance routines, a BMX performance, and German cuisine; to the introduction of countless new products, the ORTHOPÄDIE + REHA-TECHNIK (O+R) 2012 International Trade Show and World Congress, held May 15–18, in Leipzig, Germany, had something for everyone.
Roughly 20,000 visitors attended the event, including individuals from all regions of Germany and 93 countries. Among the 537 exhibiting companies were first-time exhibitors from Croatia, Norway, and New Zealand, according to the conceptual sponsor, the German Association of Orthopedic Technology. Meghan Seus, marketing manager with Freedom Innovations, Irvine, California, said, “The global perspectives offered at this conference are far and above what you will find at a typical conference. The show, itself, seemed on par with prior years—huge!”
On the educational side of the World Congress, robotic exoskeletons were a highlight. Most robotic exoskeletons are still in the infancy stages of discovery and development, agreed a group of presenters who spoke during a symposium on Wednesday, May 16.
There was also strong interest in the growth of CAD/CAM technologies and 3D printing of prosthetic sockets, active versus powered components, and elevated vacuum technology. Randy Alley, CP, LP, CEO and chief prosthetist at biodesigns, Thousand Oaks, California, said an ongoing “trend” is the discussion about custom-fitted or off-the-shelf orthoses versus custom made devices. Alley presented on his High-Fidelity Interface™, and said that presenting to an international audience brought his socket design greater validation. He called O+R a one-stop shop to talk with anyone in the world.
Poster presentations also played an important role in the World Congress. Posters were grouped by topic and were displayed on all Congress days in front of the lecture halls.
Mirjana Vitaz, a physiotherapist for the Specialized Hospital for Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Prosthetics, Belgrade, Serbia, was part of a team that presented a poster on “Prosthetic Rehabilitation of Patient with Unilateral Knee Disarticulation and Delayed Bone Union of the Contralateral Lower-Limb Fracture.” Vitaz, who also presented a poster at the 2010 World Congress, said she enjoys participating in such events. “It gives many opportunities to see innovations in fabricating prostheses and orthoses and a great variety of materials.
“It’s a great opportunity to discuss different topics and many problems that we have while working with patients,” Vitaz continued. “It’s very useful for me to find some solutions, such as specific therapeutic techniques that can help me to give the maximum to my patients in rehabilitation in order to resocialize them and bring them to their families as satisfied, self-confident persons.”
Mark Edwards, MHPE, CP, director, professional and clinical services for Ottobock, Minneapolis, Minnesota, said, “It was nice to hear a more global perspective on clinically relevant topics from presenters from other countries. The ability to network and meet our international colleagues was well worth the effort of traveling to Germany.”
Jennifer Dowell, CPO, LPO, OMEGA Development Clinician for WillowWood, Mt. Sterling, Ohio, concurred. She said O+R “provides us with the ability to come out of our sometimes geographical and intellectual isolation to share ideas and concerns.” On the exhibition side, more than 60 new orthotic-, prosthetic-, and pedorthic-related products, services, materials, and processes were introduced, including a Germany-based franchise model for providing care and prostheses to highly active amputees.
New products created a lot of “buzz,” from the Touch Bionics virtu-limb™ simulation and training product for myoelectric arms, to the Ottobock C-Brace® mechatronic stance and swing phase control orthosis (SSCO) that is designed to control the user’s gait cycle in real time, to the Össur SYMBIONIC™ integrated bionic leg, to the international launch of the Endolite élan microprocessor-controlled foot, to Freedom Innovation’s presentation of its commercially licensed Powered Prosthetic Limb developed by Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. A new exoskeleton, the ORTHO-SYSTEMS Servus-RGS, was also unveiled at the event.
Sue Borondy, marketing and communications manager for Endolite North America, Miamisburg, Ohio, said that O+R was a success for Endolite. “Having more of a stake in the local market made it a bit more interesting for us as it provided an opportunity to network not only on the international level but in Germany as well.” Endolite also provided some local German flavor at its exhibit area with the sausage man and Kulmbach beer.
With two exhibit halls encompassed in an area about the size of a small city block, the 2012 O+R was the largest event to date, according to the Association. That includes a 5 percent increase over the O+R event in Leipzig in 2010, which was held in conjunction with the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) 13th World Congress.
The next ORTHOPÄDIE + REHA-TECHNIK International Trade Show and World Congress will be May 13–16, 2014, in Leipzig.