Five questions for Kevin Scribner, CO

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Kevin Scribner, CO, is the director of orthotics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he teaches in the residency programs for orthopedics, neurosurgery, neurology, rheumatology, and family practice. Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, Scribner has been married to his wife Kathy for "32 short and sweet years. We have two wonderful sons who make us proud every day and the most gorgeous granddaughter in the world."

1. What has motivated/inspired you in your life and professional pursuits?

My dad died when I was about five years old and my closest sibling is nine years older than I. My mother never remarried so needless to say my mother has had a large influence on my life. She was a hard worker and a dedicated mother who loved us and disciplined us in good times and bad. She taught me to be hard working, honest, respectful, and caring toward others. This is how I try to live my business and personal life. I have a sign on my office door which reminds me of her daily: "The quality of our work depends upon the quality of our people."

2. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see for the profession?

I am pleased with the advances we have made in regards to stance/swing phase control orthotic knee joints. These joints have dramatically improved the gait of a significant number of KAFO wearers. I am enthusiastic about the upgrading of our educational standards...see many young practitioners with solid backgrounds coming to the field. Our research capabilities are finally improving on a more widespread basis. The most exciting advancement recently is the introduction of FES devices for foot drop.

3. How has your career progressed?

I started out as an orthotic technician before going to Northwestern University (Chicago, Illinois) for my orthotics training. I credit Jim Russ, CO, for providing me with good teaching and direction. I have worked for small mom-and-pop companies, large corporations, and I have been in private practice. I have managed multiple offices, and I have been the sole practitioner in an office... In all these situations I have tried to approach it as a learning opportunity without forcing what I thought I already knew into the situation. I have been able to learn numerous ways to approach challenges by having this attitude...

4. What do you see in the future for orthotics and related fields?

There are big challenges ahead with the possibilities of nationalized healthcare, falling reimbursement, and increasing costs of doing business. I am concerned more about orthotics than prosthetics. Our professional organizations seem to focus on protecting and advancing prosthetics without as much attention to orthotics. For example, I have questioned for years why Medicare will cover prosthetic check sockets but not a check orthosis. My opinion is that you can make a stronger argument for the necessity of multiple check orthoses than check sockets... The reimbursement for orthotics does not reflect the level of difficulty that exists in fabricating many orthoses...

5. What are your top priorities when working with a patient?

I evaluate each patient and listen to the objectives and needs of the patient, therapist, doctor, and whoever else is involved in the process. The cookbook approach was thrown out of my practice shortly after I entered the real world from school. I teach my staff to listen, evaluate, and think about each client or patient individually.... I collect as much objective outcome data as I can... We perform ten-meter walk tests on every client who uses an AFO or KAFO. It is quick, simple, and costs nothing... The more we know objectively about what we do the better we will be at helping our clients reach their maximum functional level.

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