Meet Christopher Kraft & learn about what ISPO means to him

What led you to enter the Prosthetic/Orthotic Profession, and what would you consider to be your greatest joy about doing the work you do?

I had much exposure to the field of prosthetics and orthotics in my early years as my family ran a prosthetic and orthotic company in Ottawa. Officially, I entered into the field first as a technician then as a clinician. After attending George Brown College technical program, I pursued both my orthotic and prosthetic technical registrations. After working for 2 years as a technician, one year in Canada and one year in Europe, I studied Human Kinetics at University of Waterloo. Shortly after that I was accepted into the clinical program at George Brown College which enabled me to pursue both my orthotic and prosthetic certifications.
My greatest joy while working in the prosthetic & orthotic field comes from sharing my clients’ excitement to be more mobile. As well, I cherish the opportunity to use my problem-solving skills, especially, when I get to take theoretical concepts that “should work” and create real world solutions that improves the quality of peoples’ lives. Moreover, this profession gives me the opportunity to create with my own hands, which is something I find very satisfying.

What led you to become involved with ISPO Canada?

Involvement in ISPO gives me the opportunity to view our field from a more global perspective. It provides access to courses, congresses, webinars and research, as well as, the multidisciplinary perspective—understanding issues in the field from different health care practitioners’ points of view.

What impact do you think ISPO has had on persons accessing assistive devices and rehabilitation services?ISPO helps share knowledge & best practices around the world, increases the quality of services in developing countries by standardizing education, and gives individuals an international platform to share their ideas & messages.

Are there any current professional projects that you are engaged in?

For over 30 years, I have been a member of Rotary International which has a mission to eradicate polio. At the local level, I am involved in mentoring Algonquin college students’ research projects in Electrical/Mechanical Technology and providing internship opportunities for Human Kinetic students from the University of Ottawa & Industrial Design students from Carleton University. Some recent projects include the development of a 3-D printed helmet and an insole lining with sensors.

Can you offer any advice to recent graduates and students in your chosen profession?
Aspire to be a lifelong learner. Stay open to learning from every situation and from everyone you encounter. Recognize the importance of giving back to the P&O profession in whatever way you can based on your skills and talents.

What are your hobbies and activities outside of your professional life?
I enjoy travelling & meeting new people, as well as, a wide range of physical activities.

Past Member Highlights

Meet Brittany Poussett & learn about what ISPO means to her

What led you to enter the Prosthetic/Orthotic Profession, and what would you consider to be your greatest joy about doing the work you do?

My journey into prosthetics began by studying Biophysics at the University of British Columbia while also working as a fitness instructor at the pool. I wanted to figure out how I could combine these two passions of mine.  How would I combine my love of creating, problem solving and evaluating new technology designs while also working with people to help them reach their goals?  Prosthetics was the perfect fit!  Since then, I have become a Certified Prosthetist and currently work at Barber Prosthetics as a Prosthetist and the Head of Research.  

I absolutely love working with people and being a part of them being able to do the things that they love to do.  I have witnessed (and shed) many happy tears watching my patients achieve their goals and I am truly honoured to be in this role. 

What led you to become involved with ISPO Canada?

There are many different P&O organizations in Canada including ISPO, Orthotics Prosthetics Canada and provincial P&O associations.  I originally was drawn to get involved with ISPO Canada because it was the organization, I was least familiar with I wanted to learn more about how these different organizations can work together in their unique spheres to develop the profession and improve the care we offer to our patients.  Since being involved, I have discovered a rich, collaborate interdisciplinary community that is passionate about supporting the growth of P&O professionals and the patients we care for.  

One of the other things I am passionate about is making the knowledge we acquire through research accessible and relevant to the average clinician. In joining ISPO Canada, I discovered an opportunity to join the research and education initiatives which is focused on doing just that.  We are working on bringing awareness to the high-quality education and research resources (though regular webinars, the Prosthetics Orthotics International Journal, and more) and making them accessible and relevant to everyone! 

Can you offer any advice to recent graduates and students in your chosen profession?
Welcome to a wonderful community!  Some of the richest parts of being involved in P&O are the relationships I have made with people across the country.  I encourage you to get involved in whatever you are drawn to (locally, provincially, nationally, internationally).  At all levels you will find like-minded people passionate about providing great care for their patients and making the fields of P&O better for the future.  

What are your hobbies and activities outside of your professional life?
I love anything that gets me outside with my husband and kids – snowboarding, skiing, or skating in the winter and hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, or camping in the summer.  I also love gardening and cultivate a pretty great vegetable garden in my backyard. 

Meet Nathalie Anglehart & learn about what ISPO means to her

What led you to enter the Prosthetic/Orthotic Profession, and what would you
consider to be your greatest joy about doing the work you do?
Dans quelle profession êtes-vous entré et qu’est-ce que vous considérez comme votre plus grande joie dans le travail que vous faites ?

I am a certified orthotist since over 30 years. Even today, it is a pleasure to practice on a daily basis since it allows me to help people and make a difference in their daily lives
regardless of their needs. I specialized in pediatric patients and being surrounded by little sweeties every day is a joy in itself. I have the chance to share special moments of happiness with them. I can develop my sense of creativity to create devices specific to each need. I also have the chance to get involved / exchange with my peers in the profession, other professionals, and students.

Je suis orthésiste certifiée depuis plus de 30 ans. Encore aujourd’hui, c’est un plaisir de pratiquer au quotidien puisqu’elle me permet d’aider les gens et faire une différence dans leur quotidien peu importe leurs besoins. Je me suis spécialisée avec la clientèle pédiatrique et être entourée de petites frimousses au quotidien est une joie en soi. Ça me permet de partager des petits moments de bonheur avec eux. Je peux développer mon sens de créativité pour créer des appareils propres à chaque besoin. J’ai aussi la chance de m’impliquer /échanger avec mes pairs dans la profession, autres professionnels et étudiants.

What led you to become involved with ISPO Canada? Qu’est-ce qui vous a amené à vous impliquer dans l’ISPO?
I have been fortunate for several years to get involved with ISPO as an auditor for the ISPO Accreditation Committee.  A great opportunity that allows me to interact with my peers and get involved with different schools in my profession at the international level.  Amazing professional encounters which continue over the years and allows me to grow professionally.

J’ai la chance depuis plusieurs années de m’impliquer avec ISPO en tant qu’auditrice pour le comité d’accréditation de ISPO.  Une belle opportunité qui me permet d’inter-changer avec mes pairs et m’impliquer auprès de différentes écoles dans ma profession au niveau international. De belles rencontres professionnelles qui continue avec les années et qui m’a permis de grandir professionnellement.

What impact do you think ISPO has had on persons accessing assistive
devices and rehabilitation services?
Selon vous, quel impact l’ISPO a-t-il eu sur les personnes ayant accès aux appareils fonctionnels et aux services de réadaptation?

ISPO in my opinion has a great impact for orthotists and prosthetists at the international level to exchange and communicate.  Allows the education of new ortho-prosthetists to meet international quality standards at several levels.  Improves the quality of services and devices for people who need us.

ISPO selon moi a un grand impact pour les orthésistes et prothésistes au niveau international afin d’échanger et communiquer. Permet l’éducation de nouveaux ortho-prothésistes afin de rencontrer des standards internationaux de qualité à plusieurs niveaux. Permet d’améliorer la qualité des services et appareillages pour les personnes qui ont besoin de nous.

Are there any current professional projects that you are engaged in? Y a-t-il des projets professionnels en cours dans lesquels vous êtes engagé?

Presently, I am the new head of the certification and registration board with OPC, I sit on the board of directors with L’AOPQ and I teach courses in orthotics at UQAT (University).  Along with my co-workers at our clinic, Orthèses MJ, we are developing with 3D technology.

En ce moment, je suis la nouvelle chef de la commission de certification et d’enregistrement avec OPC, je siège sur le conseil d’administration avec L’AOPQ et j’enseigne des cours en orthèses à UQAT(Université). Avec mes collègues de travail à notre clinique, Orthèses MJ, nous sommes dans le développement avec la technologie 3D.

Can you offer any advice to recent graduates and students in your chosen profession? Pouvez-vous offrir des conseils aux jeunes diplômés et aux étudiants dans la profession que vous avez choisie ?

What I can advise young graduates and students is to open their doors wide to opportunities to grow in the profession of orthotics and prosthetics.  To get involved and follow your dreams to become only better.  Today with technology, we all have to learn and develop new skills.  But most importantly, simply listen to the people you will have the chance to meet daily, whether it is with your patients, colleagues, or other professionals.

Ce que je peux conseiller au jeunes diplômés et étudiants est d’ouvrir grand leur porte à des opportunités de grandir dans la profession d’orthésiste et prothésiste. De s’impliquer et voir grand dans ses rêves pour devenir que meilleur. Aujourd’hui avec la technologie, nous avons tous à apprendre et développer de nouvelles compétences. Mais le plus important, être à l’écoute tout simplement avec les gens dont aurez la chance de rencontrer au quotidien et de leur apporter le mieux de vos connaissances.

What are your hobbies and activities outside of your professional life? Quels sont vos hobbies et activités en dehors de votre vie professionnelle?

I developed a passion for painting allowing me to play with colors and relax. Camping to get me out of my daily life and refocus on weekends. I like to be surrounded by my family or simply among friends. I love traveling to see new horizons and culture. I like walking in the forest, dancing, reading, and skiing.

J’ai développé une passion pour la peinture qui me permet de jouer avec les couleurs et me détendre. Je fais camping pour me sortir de mon quotidien et me recentrer les weekends. J’aime être entourée de ma famille ou entre amis tout simplement. J’adore voyager afin de découvrir de nouveaux horizons et découvrir de nouvelles cultures. J’aime la marche en forêt, la danse, la lecture et le ski.

Meet Arezoo Eshraghi & learn about what ISPO means to her

What led you to enter the Prosthetic/Orthotic Profession, and what would you consider to be your greatest joy about doing the work you do?
I visited a P&O facility before I choose my major at university and was impressed by artistic yet well engineered devices that helped improve life of people with mobility issues. What I loved the most was that engineering techniques and medical expertise went hand in hand. My greatest joy is being challenged every day by my clients and trying to find ways to bring smile on their faces. I always say our profession is truly rewarding. It is wonderful how we work as a team with other professionals to ensure our clients achieve their daily
mobility goals.

What led you to become involved with ISPO Canada?
Being a member of ISPO international for the last two decades and volunteering at the Scientific Committee since 2017, I have enjoyed connecting with P&O professionals globally. Also during my PhD and postdoc fellowship, I collaborated with P&O manufacturers and research groups on R&D projects to develop new techniques and components for amputee rehabilitation. By joining the ISPO Canada, I will bring my background as a clinician, educator and researcher to promote ISPO mission among my fellow professionals in Canada. Being exposed to diverse patient populations as a clinician, from Middle East to Southeast Asia and North America, my goal is to support diversity in the Canadian P&O care.

What impact do you think ISPO has had on persons accessing assistive devices and rehabilitation services?
I believe ISPO has provided grounds for engaging various professionals, end users, industry, scholars, and governments to build a better world together. Every two years, professionals from around the world gather during ISPO congress to share their experiences and knowledge on providing better care for those in need of assistive
devices and raising the standards of P&O education.

Can you offer any advice to recent graduates and students in your chosen profession?
Learning is an ongoing process in P&O profession. As students, you may not see all conditions and types of assistive devices, so when you start as a fresh P&O clinician be open to exploring new techniques, take risks and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Qualifications will get you to the interview but experience and passion will get you further. Our clients rely on us as professionals so our job is to listen to them and keep ourselves up-to-date to provide quality care. Embrace every opportunity to volunteer in P&O communities to connect with other professionals and assistive device users.

What are your hobbies and activities outside of your professional life?
I enjoy travelling to meet new people and places. Exercise is key to a healthy life, so I like walking and jogging few times a week.

Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share?
Our profession has a lot to offer to the community and it is on every one of us to promote it both nationally and internationally. We can build “A world where all people have equal opportunity for full participation in society”.

Meet Alain Plouffe & learn about what ISPO means to him

What profession did you enter into, and what would you consider to be your greatest joy about doing the work you do?

After completing my degree in Human Kinetics at Ottawa U and then Clinical P&O at George Brown College, I became a Certified Orthotist. Currently, I oversee the Orthotics, Pedorthics, Prosthetics & Seating Program at the Queen Alexandra Centre in Victoria BC. 

Our work is an amazing combination of art and science that leads to creative ways of helping people with disabilities. My greatest joy is seeing the impact this can have on a patient’s quality of life.

What led you to become involved with ISPO Canada?

I spent a good portion of my career working overseas for the International Committee of the Red Cross. During that time, I had the privilege of collaborating with professionals from all over the world and saw varying levels of access to training and education in our field. When I decided to come back to Canada, I wanted to stay involved in promoting P&O standards both locally and abroad. Joining ISPO and becoming an auditor seemed like a great way to do so.

What impact do you think ISPO has had on persons accessing assistive devices and rehabilitation services?

Coming up in November, ISPO will be 50 years old. An impressive milestone! While there is still much to do, I believe ISPO’s remarkable efforts in establishing international standards is leading to better worldwide access to qualified professionals and consistency in patient experiences when they need P&O care.

Can you offer any advice to recent graduates and students in your chosen profession?

View the profession through a wide lens, think outside the box and challenge best practice. P&O continues to evolve and there are many opportunities for us to grow as professionals and be innovative for our patients.

What are your hobbies and activities outside of your professional life?

Enjoying everything the west coast has to offer by being outdoors with my family whenever possible.

Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share?

Joining ISPO has been a great choice. Doing so has connected me to a much larger group of like-minded professionals and I truly value the networking and learning opportunities that have come from being a member.

Meet Gertrude Mensch and hear her ISPO Memories!

Throughout my career as a physiotherapist, I was employed at the Henderson General Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. I thoroughly enjoyed what I did.

Please realize that I date back to a time when “my” hospital owned 3 pigs (1956). They were cared for by a nearby farmer and were fed by left over hospital food. Times have changed!

In 1960, shortly after I was appointed to be the Physiotherapy Department Head, Dr. Angus MacMillan, Orthopaedic surgeon, established the “Regional Amputation Rehabilitation Assessment Clinic”. It was located in Henderson General Hospital’s Physiotherapy Department where meetings were held once a week. Surgical procedures were done at the Hamilton General Hospital. Amputation rehabilitation was the responsibility of the Henderson Hospital while prosthetic and orthotic services were provided at the nearby Chedoke Hospital, whose prosthetist attended our weekly  assessment meetings. Everything was spread out, but times demanded team work. Team work was “in”!

In the same year -1960 – my hospital administration sent me to New York’s University’s Post-Graduate Medical School to attend  a 2 week long intense Amputation Rehabilitation Team course. We had to learn what our team partners did, how we should  work together and how the amputee feels. At its conclusion, there was an exam and the results sent to my hospital administrator.  I reported my successful experience to Dr, Angus MacMillan. As a result, the Henderson Hospital started in-service staff education. I was suddenly  responsible for in-service staff education in the rehab sector. A few times I was “loaned out” to Northern Hospitals. My fondest memory is a trip to Haileybury.
The town had a silver mine and their hospital gave me a treat to go down to see silver mining. The elevator was a narrow wooden box shaking down slowly until it came to a bumpy stop. A small underground rail system brought my guide and me to a dimly lit area where the miners worked. This experience resulted in my greatest respect for the miners working for hours underground.

To keep up with the advancements of prosthetics I attended several National Prosthetic conventions. All prosthetists – in those years only men- were most helpful in explaining the technical and mechanical workings of new components (eg. knee joints). What I learned during these presentations and discussions was key, since it directly impacts gait patterns and gait analysis.

My next great surprise came in 1974. I had submitted a paper to ISPO’s first World Congress scheduled to be held in Montreux / Switzerland and it was accepted. But the surprise was an invitation to also attend the preceding ISPO Workshop to be held in Les Diablerets, a beautiful ski resort in the mountains near Montreux. It was a fact finding workshop, investigating the number of amputees; types disabled persons worldwide; the type of help they could receive and ideas of how ISPO could provide help. I was delighted! My employer gave approval to attend this event. The group of approximately 30  people I met there was an international mix – all kind, knowledgeable and caring. I learned more from them than I could contribute. I was hooked,. I signed up to become an ISPO member. 

Back home I took on the responsibilities of secretary for ISPO in Canada. I received guidance from ISPO‘S Head office in Copenhagen and Cliff Chadderton, CEO of the War Amputees of Canada.
Slowly our membership increased. During 1979 I was elected to represent Canada on ISPO’s International Executive Board. I accepted with joy. My 3 year term started in 1980. Board meetings were held twice yearly, mostly in Copenhagen. Each board member represented a different country. In 1983 I received the honour of ISPO Fellowship and remained on the Board for a second term until 1986. Education for developing countries was a prime objective, Member country reports were studied and our report to the World Health Organization was prepared. We often had some homework.

I was fortunate enough to meet Terry Fox. He stopped in Hamilton on his cross country run. He was a determined young man, who lost his leg above the knee due to bone cancer. He found his running pattern tiring. He had to take an extra hop with his sound leg to permit his prosthesis to swing forward to achieve heel contact. He thought of getting a spring mechanism below his artificial knee to excel his prosthesis to swing forward faster after toe off. That thought was the beginning of the development of a running prosthesis for otherwise healthy above knee amputees.

I was asked what impact ISPO had on assessing Assistive Devices and Rehabilitation Services. My answer is threefold.
1) The ISPO journal publishes research papers, a calendar of upcoming courses and events as well as book reviews. Since ISPO’s membership is multi- disciplinary, a large group of rehabilitation workers, not only prosthetists and orthotists, receive updated information. This large membership group is therefore able to help, advise and refer physically disabled clients to get help for their specific needs.
2. ISPO is holding regular World Congresses in different parts of the world and always offers advanced courses at the same time for which members can sign up. That increases the knowledge base of the membership
3. Needs of supportive and corrective devices differ from country to country. Some have access to Research and Development, others do not. ISPO is sending experts to developing countries to help to develop simple, yet useful devices. Just one example: ISPO member Prof. Dr. R. Baumgartner from Switzerland traveled regularly to the Sudan and other African countries. He sent me a picture of a foot amputee using a large hook strapped to his lower leg and used both hands and legs  to walk up a tree trunk to harvest coconuts. He could keep his job.

These factors combined have increased our membership greatly, and with it better services to users of all P and O devises. This worldwide betterment cannot be measured in numbers as satisfaction is subjective. But ISPO has most certainly greatly improved awareness, guidance and help. After all, ISPO has been chosen to report regularly to the World Health Organization.

In a nutshell, I have worked with lower extremity amputees using a peg leg and also with amputees who were treated with the below-knee instant prosthetic fitting technic. A plaster cast was applied directly after a below knee amputation to prevent stump swelling, and a gait attachment device was available for immediate controlled weight bearing in early ambulation ( Dr. Burgess method). In later years computer aided socket  designs were used (CAD-CAM ) for A/K socket fabrication and also flexible sockets were introduced.

I was also asked what kind of advice I would like to give to a new graduate. The answer is simple:  Keep on learning. No one can take away from you what you have learned. Also join your professional association. It guides, advises and helps you and keep up standards. It is your partner.

Then I was asked what I considered to be my greatest achievement.  No doubt my publications. Papers in different journals, chapters in books published by Dr. S. Banerjee, by Dr. Basmajian, and by Prof. Dr. R Baumgartner.  My own book published entitled “ Physical Therapy Management of Lower Extremity Amputations” was published in 1987 by Aspen Publishers. Inc.. The book took 3 years to write, but all the effort was worth it. I received an Honorable Award from the American Medical Writers Association at their 1987 Chicago Convention. My husband Gunter and I  attended the Awards Ceremony. I was very pleased.  Later Dan Blocka (ISPO member) converted the entire text into PDF. My friend and colleague  Patty Ellis-Idenouye was my co-author and I thank her dearly for all her insightful help. I retired on June 30, 1988.

That gave Gunter, a retired dentist, and myself time to enjoy longer winter vacations which we spent on Glovers Reef, an atoll in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize. After a hurricane destroyed this lovely place, we vacationed on the island of Bonaire. Gunter enjoyed scuba diving and I loved snorkelling. We both like reading. We rented an ocean cottage , had our own water entrance with a coral reef right there. A boat which took divers out to sea in the morning was nearby . We cooked for ourselves and shopped at the vegetable boat which came twice weekly from Venezuela . In the afternoon Gunter would say: “Come let’s go in the water to visit our fishes.” And then we snorkelled together.  Gunter passed away in 2011.  I am very thankful that we could be together for 62 years. I have a loving family and now live near them in Lincoln Park, a Senior Residence in Grimsby, Ontario . Zoe my great-granddaughter is the sunshine of my life.

Gertrude Mensch, MCPA