A Conversation With Susan Kapp, MEd, CPO, LPO, FAAOP

In this issue, O&P News poses five questions to Susan Kapp, MEd, CPO, LPO, FAAOP.

Kapp is associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of the center’s Prosthetics-Orthotics Program. She has held both positions for the past 20 years, before which she served as assistant professor and acting director from 1986 to 1996, and instructor from 1983 to 1986.

Kapp earned a bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University; certification in both prosthetics and orthotics from Northwestern University; and a master’s degree from University of Texas (UT).

She is a member of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO), American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP) and the Texas Chapter of the AAOP. She has held board positions at the AAOP, the Texas Chapter of the AAOP, the National Association of Prosthetic and Orthotic Educators and the U.S. ISPO. She has been a fellow of the AAOP since 2009 and was named Educator of the Year by the AAOP in 1993.

In June 2016, Kapp received the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teacher Award and the UT Southwestern “Distinguished Teaching Professor” Award. She has authored or coauthored more than 20 articles in publications including Prosthetics and Orthotics International, Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. She has contributed to multiple conference papers and been awarded grants for several research projects. Most recently, she coauthored the grant-funded study, “Does Increased Education Result in Optimum Prosthetic Sock Ply Use Over Time?” in 2016.

She is a member of the O&P News 175.

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

Mel Stills, CO(E), has encouraged and guided me throughout my career. He taught me the importance of giving back to the profession. Mel is service-minded and selflessly gave his time and expertise to the profession. He always believed me to be more capable than I felt. He pushed me out of my comfort zone, while supporting me along the way.

Susan Kapp, MEd, CPO, LPO, FAAOP

Mel recruited me to Dallas just as I was finishing my prosthetic residency. Dallas Rehabilitation Institute had an orthotic practice and Mel wanted to expand into prosthetics. With his guidance, we established a prosthetic practice and he then suggested that I apply for a faculty position at the new prosthetics and orthotics program that was being developed at UT Southwestern. Following his advice has provided me with much professional opportunity and professional gratification. I am lucky and thankful to have such an exceptional leader as a mentor and friend.

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

Kapp: My roommate in college had a congenital anomaly and wore a prosthesis. She needed to have a repair made on her prosthesis and invited me to accompany her to the prosthetist’s office, Muilenburg’s in Houston. The prosthetist talked with me about the profession and gave me a tour of the practice. It was certainly a “lightbulb” moment as my interest in health care and my mechanical aptitude were a perfect fit.

O&P News: What area of research in O&P most interests you right now? Why?

Kapp: I have two current areas of interest. The first is the efficacy of hydraulic ankles and their impact on socket pressure. We teach that articulated feet reduce pressure in the anterior distal tibial area; however; there is almost no research to substantiate it. The second is socket volume management. In my patient care experience, I too often see patients with preventable skin breakdown because they do not understand how to maintain an appropriate socket fit. Whether it is their lack of understanding, poor education on the clinic’s part or some other factor, these incidents are preventable. Sockets that respond to a patient’s volume fluctuations would be ideal, but until such technologies are mainstream, education about sock management delivered in the correct format and dose is of interest to me.

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

Kapp: Work hard and be confident.Learn from everyone you encounter. Your value to a practice is based on your clinical abilities and the positive rapport you develop with your patients. Volunteer and network. Start by presenting at conferences within our state and national organizations to become noticed. Volunteer within your community as these skills will translate to your profession as well.

O&P News: Have you ever been fortunate enough to witness or to have been part of medical history in the making?

Kapp: During my time at Dallas Rehabilitation Institute in the early 1980s, Mel Stills, CO, was working with Don Mauldin, MD; Richard “Dickey” Jones, MD; and Don Lambert to develop an off-the-shelf walking boot. I observed multiple iterations of the walker as the design was being perfected. The technicians fabricated the side struts and foot plates on a large automated vacuum forming machine, the same machine we used to pull KAFOs on. They named the walker the 3D (Don, Dickey, Don) Walker and today there are of course many companies that manufacture a walking boot. At that time, it was one of the first.

Disclosure: Kapp reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.