The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents recently approved a new master’s program in prosthetics and orthotics for Kennesaw State, beginning Fall 2020.
KSU’s new program will take place within the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, located in the WellStar College of Health and Human Services.
The prosthetics and orthotics degree is meant to combine healthcare and engineering — two fields that KSU is known for, according to KSU News. There will be a focus on creating prosthetic limbs and the clinical research behind it.
“This is an entry-level master’s degree that will train students to become certified clinical practitioners of prosthetics and orthotics,” KSU Chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management and Professor of Exercise Science Dr. Mark Geil said. “Once the student finishes the degree, they will be prepared to do a residency, then take the board examination to be a certified orthotist and prosthetist.”
Geil said that with the addition of the program, populations who normally struggle with movement can be helped with prosthetics.
“First, there are populations who have limb loss and dysfunction or other conditions that this field treats,” Geil said. “But beyond that, there are two kinds of areas that make us worry about our ability to meet clinical demands.”
The two areas he discussed would be injured veterans and the elderly. Geil said the physical challenges that affect both groups could be reduced with the use of prosthetic limbs. Everyday struggles these groups face would be reduced.
Geil also stated that working towards the prosthetics and orthotics degree has an overall humanitarian aspect. He hopes the degree can assist people in developing nations.
“One of the most endearing aspects of the field is the ability to have a global perspective and try to meet the needs of particularly developing nations,” Geil said. “There is work worldwide in meeting the specific needs of different people groups.”
A degree in prosthetics and orthotics was first developed in 2002 by Geil when he worked for the Georgia Institute of Technology. The program first started as two options — a bachelor’s degree and a post-baccalaureate certificate — but had no further opportunities for an advanced degree.
“We realized the field had become a lot more complex than it used to be,” Geil said. “It really required masters’ level training to encompass everything you need to learn to be a good practitioner.”
Geil developed the degree to include more advanced training that fully encompassed both in-depth clinical research and practical application. After the creation of this new master’s degree, other colleges emulated the curriculum and requirements.
The program was discontinued by Georgia Tech a few years later, but Geil wanted to keep the results of his research local.
“[The degree] serves a vital need for the population in the area, the students in the area…” Geil said. “We have a shortage of practitioners, so we wanted to stay in the state as much as possible.”
After Geil spoke with KSU administrators and the BOR, both parties agreed to transfer the degree to KSU.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of prosthetic and orthotics practitioners is predicted to be at a 20 percent growth rate from 2018 to 2028.