Face to Face: John D. King, CP

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John King says his life's calling is to serve others. This is evidenced by his military service as a Hospital Corpsman during the Vietnam War, his pursuit of a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy, and his avocational pursuits such as singing and playing guitar at folk mass or at the hospice where he volunteers. King says he was introduced to prosthetics while touring New England Brace Company in Hookset, New Hampshire, and decided a career as an O&P patient care provider was a natural extension of his calling. He became ABC-certified in prosthetics after completing the short-term prosthetic courses offered at New York University, New York. He now provides prosthetic care at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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

I have always been inspired by the courage my patients exhibit in choosing to go on with dynamic, fulfilling lives following amputation. My beautiful wife of 25 years, Jeanne, who is a licensed physical therapist, also inspires me.

2. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see for your field?

I began my career fitting pre-energy storage/return feet. I have progressed from quad-socket technology for transfemoral amputees to highly evolved fitting techniques combined with composite laminations and flexible sockets that encompass liner technology where appropriate. Prosthetic knees have evolved from single axis exoskeletal knees and early endoskeletal components to computerized prosthetic knee technology. I have watched computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing of prosthetic devices develop over the years.

I see exciting opportunities to advance prostheses with computerized technology such as the Touch Bionics i-limb™, Otto Bock's Genium™ knee, and the Össur Power Knee™, to name a few. Over the years, our profession has been journeying toward cyborg technology and the seamless integration of man-made prosthetic devices with human physiology. I hope to see neural integration progress.

3. What do you see in the future for O&P?

I am concerned that the increasing cost of new technology will limit its availability due to financial constraints imposed by the various payers. I am pleased to see advancements in educational opportunities with the goal of a doctorate degree for more clinicians.

4. What are your top priorities/goals when working with a patient?

My top priority in providing patient care is establishing open lines of communication. Poor communication can result in misunderstandings when resolving fit and function issues with the prosthesis. I make it clear to my patients that if they have a concern, they should report it—they should never feel like they are complaining but simply reporting areas where I can improve.

I strive to stay current with emerging technology, embracing new fitting techniques as well as computerized prosthetic technology. I feel privileged to participate in our team approach with the goal of optimizing outcomes through team efforts. This also translates to providing enhanced patient care.

5. Do you have an unusual or exceptional story you would like to tell?

I have had the opportunity to introduce amputees to kayak competition at the Extremity Games and the United States Canoe Association (USCA) Nationals kayak sprint races. To date, the people I have introduced to the sport have earned second and fourth place at the 2009 Extremity Games, as well as one gold, two silver, and two bronze medals at the USCA Nationals kayak sprint races this year in Newago, Michigan.

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