A Conversation With Thomas Karolewski, MA, CP/L, FAAOP

In this issue, O&P News poses five questions to Thomas Karolewski, MA, CP/L, FAAOP.

Karolewski is supervisor of the Orthotics and Prosthetics Clinic at Hines VA hospital where he also serves as the residency director for the orthotics and prosthetics residents. Karolewski serves on two national committees for the veteran’s administration, and is also on the board as a director for the National Commission for Orthotics and Prosthetics Education.

He served as full-time faculty for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine for 20 years and is adjunct faculty for the orthotics and prosthetics school as well as adjunct faculty for the Department of Education for Concordia University. Karolewski has been involved in education for the past 35 years and has taught at every level from elementary school to graduate school. He also has designed and implemented various types of curriculum at the different levels of education during the past 35 years. Karolewski is the recipient of the 2005 Outstanding Educator award and is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists. Karolewski received the Quarter Century Award from the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Thomas Karolewski, MA, CP/L, FAAOP

Thomas Karolewski, MA, CP/L, FAAOP

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

Thomas Karolewski, MA, CP/L, FAAOP: I was working at North Chicago VA as a kinesiotherapist and I had the pleasure of sitting in amputee clinic and I was fascinated by the components and had to learn how to do that. Watching practitioners in action and aligning the legs in clinic was very interesting to me.

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

Karolewski: There have been two influences that have made me appreciate my career. In the education realm three wonderful instructors — Helen Heitmann, PhD, Marian Kneer, PhD, and Jane Allen, PhD, were instrumental in forming my passion to teach in my undergraduate years. It is because of them I love education. In my prosthetic career, my greatest influences come from Gunter Gehl, CP(E) and Mark Edwards, CP. Those two individuals have taught me so much about the foundation of prosthetics and appreciating that is it all about the students and not personal recognition.

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

Karolewski: Yes, while I was still teaching at Northwestern I had the pleasure of witnessing the initial research being performed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago when Robert Lipshutz, CP, and Laura Miller, CP, PhD, were working with Todd Kuiken, MD, PhD, on targeted muscle re-innervation.

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

Karolewski: I always tried to be active and I still get out and run as much as I can. More recently my wife and I have spent the last 7 years ballroom dancing at Arthur Murray Dance Studio. We have enjoyed the social and athletic aspect of dancing, plus it has been fun to perform in dance shows.

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

Karolewski: My desires are to finish my doctorate and possibly work at a university studying and teaching early childhood development. There is nothing better than watching the moment when learning takes place.

For more information:

Thomas Karolewski, MA, CP/L. FAAOP, can be reached by email at: Thomas.Karolewski@va.gov.

Disclosure: Karolewski has no relevant financial disclosures.

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