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A Conversation With Robin Burton

In this issue, O&P News poses five questions to Robin Burton.

Burton is the executive director of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Foundation (OPAF). She has brought years of administrative experience and her personality to the foundation, along with a genuine desire to work toward health and fitness programs for those it serves.

Since taking the role of executive director in 2005, OPAF’s visibility at state and regional meetings has increased. The foundation also developed the First Clinics, an OPAF-launched initiative that aims to get those with disabilities active in sports.

Burton holds a bachelor’s degree from Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. She has more than 17 years of management experience, has served as customer service manager for a prosthetics manufacturer and held leadership positions in community organizations as well as professional groups. Burton is a member of the O&P News 175.

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

Burton: I have always loved to read. I also enjoy recreational travel and recently achieved visiting all 50 states. I love visiting National Parks and Presidential Museums. I just visited the George Bush Presidential Museum in Dallas, which was number eight for me. Antiquing is another hobby of mine, as well as visiting old churches and cemeteries. My husband, Michael, and I are both collectors, though we keep trying to pare down the collections. Coca-Cola memorabilia, cookbooks, NASCAR and Christmas collections keep us busy.

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

Burton: My husband, Michael, would be the great influence in my career with OPAF. He persuaded me to accept the executive director position back in the spring of 2005 and has supported both my career and the advancements that OPAF has made for 11 plus years.

Robin Burton

While I never worked for him, I would also say that Ted Thranhardt, CPO, has had a great influence. Ted always preached to his employees with SPS and Hanger that they had an obligation to give back to the industry that was providing them with a career. I am a big believer in giving back, whatever your field, whatever your career. OPAF’s First Clinics offer that opportunity to those associated with orthotics and prosthetics within adaptive recreation.

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

Burton: Students need to understand that the clinical aspect of O&P is only one portion of the patient’s life. The patient will also have a need for adaptive recreation, occupational therapy a social life and all those parts need to be fulfilled. Everyone needs and deserves recreation and socialization at a level they feel comfortable in a safe and secure environment. All of those parts come together in making a new normal for the patient and their family.

The First Clinics offer a large variety of recreational activities. If scuba diving or rock climbing is not your thing, how about trying social dance or golf? Interested in personal fitness or personal safety? We offer a lot. Students can make their patients aware of the opportunities and possibilities that OPAF First Clinics offer at no charge to any participant.

O&P News: What do you enjoy doing to relax?

Burton: I love browsing book stores and reading, touring churches, antiquing and getting time to visit with our sons, who are scattered across the United States. I also love planning vacations and enjoying our home in the Carolinas. Classical music can send me my happy place. Give me live classical music and I am over the moon.

O&P News: What is up next for you?

Burton: On Nov. 5, OPAF will host the inaugural OPAF First Volley Adaptive Tennis tournament in Cherry Hill, N.J. for those facing physical challenges. This will be the first of its kind to be held in the United States. This tournament will be made possible through grant funding from The Barr Amputee Assistance Foundation and USTA Middle States Section.

Also, OPAF is moving toward adding more education to the First Clinics for the rehab therapy team. We have already begun this education aspect with First Swing, First Stride and Wheelchair Tennis. We invite local therapists, practitioners and anyone with an interest in adaptive recreation to join us for classroom education and hands-on application. We are planning to expand this approach in 2016 with First Swim and First Volley so that we are giving the local attendees more options that they can reach out to for coaching and assistance. Continuing education credits may apply.

Disclosure: Burton reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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