A Conversation With Jon Batzdorff, CPO

In this issue, O&P News poses five questions to Jon Batzdorff, CPO, founder and president of the nonprofit corporation ProsthetiKa and practitioner at Innovative Prosthetics and Orthotics in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Batzdorff began his career as a staff prosthetist at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Rehabilitation Center. He also taught prosthetics and orthotics at UCLA. In 1979, he left the university to open Sierra Orthopedic Laboratory Inc., a private practice in Santa Rosa, Calif. After 25 years, he sold it and joined San Francisco Prosthetic Orthotic Services in 2010. He currently is back in practice in Santa Rosa working with John Morales, CP, at Innovative Prosthetics and Orthotics.

Batzdorff is chair of the U.S. National Member Society of the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics and serves as an examiner for the American Board for Certification in Prosthetics, Orthotics & Pedorthics. He also has volunteered internationally by designing and building prosthetic facilities; teaching workshops; fabricating prostheses; and donating materials and supplies in Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, as well as throughout the United States. He is also a member of the O&P News 175.

Jon Batzdorff, CPO

O&P News: What are your hobbies outside of work?

Batzdorff: I have been through a series of compulsive activities through the years, but have always been drawn toward music and woodworking. For the past few years, I have been making acoustic guitars and I play guitar. With musical instruments, as with prosthetics, form as well as function are equally important and interrelated. Also, musical instruments and prosthetics both mix art, craft and science.

O&P News: Who has had the greatest influence on your career?

Batzdorff: I would say the biggest influence has been from amputees. They are forever presenting me with challenges and expressing satisfaction, appreciation and reinforcement. This has motivated me to constantly learn new techniques that can improve my outcomes and the happiness of the people I serve. I have had many teachers, mentors and role models, but ultimately, it is the experience of satisfied patients that keeps me going and keeps me always wanting to do better.

O&P News: What was the defining moment that led you to the O&P profession?

Batzdorff: My father had a woodshop and I grew up knowing how to use tools. With him, I developed the attitude that we could make anything in the shop, from toys to science projects to furniture. And we did. One day, shortly after graduating from college, I saw an article in the newspaper about a prosthetist and what that work involves. I was immediately hooked. I wrote letters to the prosthetist in the article and then to all the prosthetics schools, and ultimately went back to prosthetics school. Seeing that newspaper article was the defining moment in my career.

O&P News: What advice would you offer to O&P students today?

Batzdorff: Do not specialize too soon. Keep an open mind and use your residency time to experience the variety of possibilities.

O&P News: Have you ever been fortunate enough to witness or to have been part of medical history in the making? If so, please explain.

Batzdorff: I was attending an advanced course at UCLA the day and moment the Flexfoot was introduced and demonstrated. It was the original Flexfoot. It was the first time any of us had seen a foot that looked like a blade rather than a foot. It was the first time we saw someone in a prosthesis tear out into a full-speed sprint. It was an exciting moment. I believe it was the most revolutionary moment in prosthetic component technology. Nearly every foot that was developed since then, has been influenced, at least in part, by the Flexfoot design.

Disclosure: Batzdorff reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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