Global Trends Shake Up Specific Education Standards

LEIPZIG — Orthotists, prosthetists and orthopedic shoe technicians
face many challenges, but as professional education is continually defined and
developed these groups need to gain the knowledge and skills and align them
with practical experience, according to an O&P researcher from the United

Sandra Sexton, director and head of the Department, National Centre for
Prosthetics and Orthotics, University Strathclyde and chairperson of the ISPO
Education Committee, said, “ISPO has published minimum standards of
professional practice for people working in prosthetics and orthotics and has
established a system of evaluation and recognition of schools, programs and
pathways offering professional education. At the heart of the standards is the
need to promote minimum care to persons who need prosthetic and orthotic

Her comments came during a presentation to the 13th ISPO World Congress,

  Sandra Sexton
  Sandra Sexton

Sexton encouraged practitioners in attendance to raise the bar and
practice above the minimum standards and for schools to aim for more than
“just enough.”

There are currently three standards published for ISPO — Category
I, Category II and Category III. Categories I and II deal mainly with
professionals who see patients. Category III is specific to technicians or
professionals who do not actively see patients.

While these guidelines are ever-evolving, it seems big changes are
coming for orthopedic technologists, a career that goes by different names in
different countries, but the guideline changes will affect all.

“We have a joint working group … at the request of orthopedic
shoe technologists, to develop an international standard for professional
practice,” Sexton said. “It is clear that this professional group has
similar profiles from nation to nation and it is expected that a published
international standard will emerge relatively soon. This may or may not look
like Category I, II or III standards, but what emerges will have a positive
benefit for people needing orthopedic footwear.”


What I specifically like is the part about orthopedic shoe technicians.
In the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, we have a lot of orthopedic shoe
technicians and they’ve always learned on the job. For 2 years, there has
been a movement going on in ISPO to do the same work as they did for the
prosthetists and orthotists – to start a regular school and get regular
training and that is what I like very much about it.

— Jan Geerzten
ISPO President-elect and
Professor Doctor for the Center for Rehabilitation, University Medical Center

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