One of These Things Is Just Like the Other…

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Or is it? Infants instinctively use comparative thinking to distinguish their mothers from other individuals. Indeed, this type of thinking is fundamental to the learning process. In an educational setting, the ability to use comparative thought effectively has significant implications for student achievement, and in a real-world setting, it is crucial to a person's decision-making process.

Given these broad implications, it is perhaps not surprising that educators focus on honing this skill from preschool all the way into post-graduate study. Although comparison and contrast is a natural form of thought, it can be a challenge to teach and a bugger to learn. For example, it is relatively straightforward to contrast apples and oranges, but it is more of a challenge to contrast apples and apples. While this is a relatively simplistic example, effectively and purposefully articulating significant differences between two or more highly similar people, places, or things not only illustrates complexity of thought, it also indicates a deep understanding of the objects that are being compared.

This is why I was excited to learn about the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) proposal to establish a consistent model for "research participant data that is presented in the literature." You can read more about it in our cover story "Apples to Apples." The ISPO proposal signals a significant shift in the sophistication of O&P research around the world, which will likely lead to more educated clinical decision-making, greater consistency in outcomes documentation, and ultimately (fingers crossed) a smoother reimbursement process. As a confirmed research junky, this evolution has been exceptionally cool to follow.

Also, be sure to check out our newest department, O&Pedia. In the tradition of Wikipedia, O&Pedia will be a series of mini guides to help new and established O&P professionals decipher the alphabet soup that is unique to our community.

Thanks for reading.

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