Faculty, staff, students and alumni attending the ISS Alumni and Networking Social at the Heinz History Center
The world-class technology and advances developed by the Pitt Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST) were represented by faculty, students and alumni at two spring conferences: the 38th International Seating Symposium in Pittsburgh, and the International Society of Prosthetics and the Orthotics (ISPO) Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
International Seating Symposium 2023
The 38th International Seating Symposium was held live and in-person, April 13-15, 2023, with pre-conference workshops on April 11 and 12. This was the first in-person ISS since 2019 and welcomed 1,500 registrants back to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. The event featured 100 exhibiting companies and non-profit organizations. Roughly 100 speakers presented pre-conference workshops, instructional courses, research papers and poster sessions.
Chaz Kellem, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Manager with Highmark Health provided an inspirational opening plenary presentation titled “Beyond Accessibility: Diversity and Inclusion in The Disability Community.”
Day two of the plenary session was led by a panel of experts including Associate Professor Mark Schmeler; Laurie Watanabe; Adjunct Instructor Matthew Berwick; Assistant Professor Helen Cochrane, CPO; Simon Hall, PT; Alex Kamadu, OT; Kyle Walker, MHA, ATP; and Deb Wilson, NZROT.
The closing plenary presentation was also stimulating and motivating by Steve Spohn, senior director of Development, The AbleGamers Charity, titled “The Experience of Helping People Have Player Experiences.”
Proceedings from the 38th International Seating Symposium will be published open access in a special edition of Assistive Technology®, the official journal of RESNA.
Design faculty Professor David Brienza (back row, second from right) and Todd Hargroder (front row, center) join students from the Masters in Rehabilitation Technology at ISS.
RST faculty and staff gather at the University of Pittsburgh exhibit booth during ISS
RST faculty and staff gather at the University of Pittsburgh exhibit booth during ISS. Pictured left to right: Paige Altman, Kim Robinson, Associate Professor Patricia Karg and Michelle Zorrilla
RST faculty gather at the University of Pittsburgh networking social at ISS. Pictured left to right: Helen Cochrane, Dan Fisher, Mark Schmeler and Jon Pearlman
MSPO Student Experience at ISS
The Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) Class of 2024 had the opportunity to attend the ISS alongside our sister program, Masters in Rehabilitation Technology (MRT). This opportunity was unique to the Pitt MSPO program, as they were the only prosthetics and orthotics program to attend the conference this past year.
MRT program alumni Madelyn Betz, Jack Fried, Areeba Khan, Kaila Ott, Sara Munera and Stephanie Vasquez and MRT student Kayden Gill presented at the 38th ISS on topics ranging from high tech adaptive sports to assistive technology in Pakistan.
MRT teaching faculty Professor David Brienza, Assistant Professor Julie Faieta, Associate Professor Mary Goldberg, Assistant Professor Rachel Hibbs, Associate Professor Patricia Karg, Research Scientist Richard Schein, Associate Professor Mark Schmeler and Chair Jon Pearlman presented instructional sessions at ISS on technology transfer of assistive technology, international seating and mobility, seating and mobility research and wheelchair standards. Plus, Assistant Professor Dan Fisher spearheaded an RST alumni and friends event that attracted 80 attendees at the Heinz History Center.
At the conference, students were able to attend lectures on several topics where the fields of O&P and Assistive Technology overlap. Of note, MSPO students were able to learn about adaptive sports and the special seating challenges that might be needed by some clients. Conference attendees included assistive technology professionals, physical therapists, occupational therapists and other allied health care professionals; it was nice to be exposed to other providers working with patients with complex mobility involvement for the MSPO students to better understand our roles in the interdisciplinary health care team. The MSPO students also had a great time walking around with O&P faculty (see image) at the exhibit hall learning about amputee adaptive driving, emerging materials in rehabilitation and all kinds of mobility options for our patients. Finally, we were able to see our own program director, Helen Cochrane, on a panel discussing the future of O&P and AT, and how furthering educational standards elevates the profession. Overall, it was a great conference experience, and we are excited to have the O&P program continue to engage with the ISS!
Helen Cochrane, Program Director MSPO following ISS Panel Discussion
Proceedings from the 38th ISS will be published open access in a special edition of Assistive Technology®, the official journal of RESNA.
International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics Congress
In late April, MRT Director Mary Goldberg and RST Chair Jon Pearlman presented at the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on products from the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP). After being incubated within Pitt for eight years, ISS and ISPO are the first congresses where ISWP was represented as a standalone non-profit entity outside of Pitt. Pearlman and Goldberg were also critical to the development of the World Health Organization (WHO) Wheelchair Service Provision Guidelines that were launched at ISPO by representatives from ISPO, ISWP and WHO.
These guidelines build on lessons learned from the 2008 WHO Wheelchair Guidelines on the Provision of Manual Wheelchairs in Less Resourced Settings and have drawn on the growing body of knowledge of best practice in wheelchair provision. The guidelines aim to ensure wheelchair users everywhere have the opportunity for timely access to, and support to use, an appropriate wheelchair through wheelchair services that are people-centered and responsive to individual needs and goals.
Pictured left to right: Kylie Shae (WHO), Chapal Khasnabis (WHO), Claude Tardif (ISPO), David Constantine (ISPO), Alex Kamadu (ISWP), Silvana Contepomi (AATA) and Mariette Deist (ISPO)
Pictured left: Krithika Kandavel (ISWP), Mary Goldberg (University of Pittsburgh) and David Rusaw (Jönköping University) at session one. Pictured right: Jon Pearlman (University of Pittsburgh) at session two
Published August 11, 2023