O&P Library > Orthotics and Prosthetics > 1965, Vol 19, Num 2 > pp. 156 - 159

Orthotics and ProstheticsThis journal was digitally reproduced with permission from the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA).

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New York University Awards First Bachelor of Science Degrees in Prosthetics and Orthotics

On June 9, 1965, the Commencement service at New York University included the conferring of two Bachelor of Science degrees in Prosthetics and Orthotics—the first such degrees to be awarded in the history of the University and in the history of these fields. On this day, Messrs. Hugh Panton and Ivan Dillee became the first two of the twenty-five undergraduates presently matriculated to complete the four-year course of study. With their newly awarded degrees, these men are pioneers of a new approach and attitude toward their profession.

Mr. Panton is a 22-year-old Floridian, unmarried, and the second oldest child in a family of six sons and two daughters. His parents, Ann and George, who live in Miami, will find his degree award a premiere for their family; the first opportunity for them to celebrate a University Commencement. Mr. Panton enjoys water sports of all sorts, but especially competing in speed boat races and water skiing. When he was eleven, an accident made him a unilateral below-the-knee amputee. He believes his experience as an amputee, plus the encouragement of his own limbfitter, led to his early and abiding interest in becoming a prosthetist. His counselor at the Florida State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency first informed him of New York University's undergraduate program and assisted him in transferring during his sophomore year to New York University.

Fig. 1, Fig. 2

In discussing his college training, Mr. Panton expressed the following opinions:

"My experiences working in a prosthetic facility during the last two summers proved to me that my university studies have really prepared me enough so I feel confident that when I graduate, I can do the job that I have been taught to do at college. The University teaches you the straight path from point X, as the starting point of a prosthetic problem, to point Y, as the prosthetic goal. But every field is influenced by practical factors, which might make going from point X to point Y in a circle, rather than in a straight line, the most desirable way for that problem. University training makes it easy to adjust to the refinements of practical work, because it gives the student a thorough theoretical background, together with enough practical experience, so he can quickly apply and adapt them both to work situations.

"I would recommend the New York University curriculum to any high school student who has average mechanical, manual and scholastic skills and who also has the ambition to work at a profession, rather than at a routine, unskilled, or semi-skilled job. Prosthetics and orthotics are professions offering useful, interesting work with a future of job security and financial opportunity.

"At present, though, so many people enter these fields only by accident or because of a very special interest, such as my own. High school students don't know enough about these fields and of the fine training, traineeships and job opportunities available to them. Prosthetists and orthotists have a duty to cooperate with educators in getting young people interested in their fields. In the long run, they'll reap the rewards."

Mr. Panton's clinical assignments while at the University have included the Veterans Administration Prosthetic Center in New York City and New York University's Prosthetic and Orthotic Research Studies at the School of Engineering and Science. He was also employed at Arthur Finnieston's Limb and Brace Shop in Miami, Florida, during the last two summers.

Being so close to graduation, he has had a number of employment offers and has accepted a position with J.E. Hanger, Inc.. St. Louis. His present plan is to specialize in prosthetics and he will take graduate courses at the University when feasible.

Mr. Ivan A. Dillee, the other Degree recipient, is a unique graduate of this curriculum, because he helped develop it and has taught his fellow students in several of the specialized prosthetic courses.

Mr. Dillee was born 54 years ago in Independence, Missouri. He majored in Religious Education at Graceland College, a two-year college, in Lamoni, Iowa. Soon, he will celebrate his silver wedding anniversary with his wife, Florence, who is employed by the New York Times. His hobbies center about his summer home in East Hampton. Long Island, and include boating, identifying migratory birds, and setting up winter feeding stations for them. He is active in the National Reserve of the Linited States Army, and during World War II. worked at Bushnell Army General Hospital in Brigham City, Utah.

Mr. Dillee entered the field of prosthetics over twenty years ago. becoming a Certified Prosthetist in 1949. He has been associated with New York University since 1957, doing research and teaching in prosthetics. Outside the University, Mr. Dillee's professional activities have included considerable technical writing and service as: Lecturer for the Committee on Prosthetic and Orthotic Education of the National Research Council—National Academy of Sciences; Research Prosthetist with the United States Army's Prosthetic Rehabilitation Mission to India in 1963; Member and twice chairman of the Prosthetist-Orthotist Faculty Sub-Committee of the University Council on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education.

Asked to evaluate his experience as both student and teacher, Mr. Dillee


"I have long been convinced that the prosthetist and orthotist of the future must work toward achieving a truly professional status. My studies in the New York University curriculum have reinforced profoundly my belief that only in the atmosphere of a university can the prosthetist and orthotist become a professional practitioner. As in the training of all other professional personnel, the prosthetist and orthotist require a background of academic as well as practical experience. In a college and university setting, a student has the opportunity to develop genuine ease and facility in his field, essential to a true professional competence. As an individual he can gain valid personal confidence, along with a broad, flexible, informed approach to theory and practice; the essence of a truly professional outlook.

"Our graduates will be immeasurably better prepared for employment in their fields than I was, when I first started in the '40s in Kansas City, Missouri. As with graduates of all college programs, our students will have varying levels of talent, but all of them will have a broad liberal arts background and, through their studies in the techniques and theoretical bases of prosthetic and orthotic practice, will have gained a firm competency in their professional fields. I am sure they can and will fit comfortably into various settings for the practice of their professions.

"My experience as a student gave me an opportunity to evaluate the entire plan of the University's new curriculum. The course of study was conceived in a logical sequence from the simple to the more complex, with each course designed to prove more demanding of students, as well as more rewarding to them. The hope was to challenge and expand their abilities appropriately in a reasonable development of skill. Practical experience has convinced me this approach was valid and has proven satisfactory.

"I was able, being a student myself, to judge more readily the students' needs, especially when trying to determine, realistically, the proper range and quantity of content for a specific course. Being older than most of them and, accordingly, further removed from former study habits, I was able to feel sure that, if I were capable of doing the work required in a particular course, they most assuredly would be able to do so, and probably with even greater ease than myself.

"As a student relatively experienced in prosthetics, I found considerable personal value in the expansion of my knowledge in other fields outside of my own specialty. My exposure to orthotic information was not only useful but fascinating because of both the newness of the material to me and the extent of over-lap with prosthetics. I learned that certain techniques carry over directly from one field to the other. The prosthetic principles of alignment, for example, apply directly to bracing alignment and the technology of quadrilateral socket design is similar to the top of a weight-bearing brace."

While celebrating the first graduates of the first college curriculum in prosthetics and orthotics, one must recognize the contributions of the faculty without whom there would be no graduates and no curriculum. The vision and inspiration for the entire program came in the first instance from Dr. Sidney Fishman who has been well known, for many years, as the director of the prosthetic and orthotic research and education programs at New York University. Dr. Fishman and his associates had been concerned about the difficulty of attracting bright, young men to careers in prosthetics and orthotics and about the lack of organized training programs for such people. It was this concern that led to the formulation of the present curriculum in 1961.

Under the supervision of Dr. Fishman and his associate, Mr. Norman Berger, syllabi were developed and courses taught in Prosthetic and Orthotic Shop Techniques by Mr. Herbert Kramer: in Below-knee, Above-knee, and Upper Extremity Prosthetics by Mr. Ivan Dillee: in Upper and Lower Extremity Orthotics by Mr. H. Richard Lehneis; in Spinal Orthotics by Mr. John Glancy; in Biomechanics by Mr. Warren Springer: in Mechanics by Mr. Elliot Dembner and in Properties of Materials by Mr. Howard Bluestein. The efforts of this devoted group made the Bachelor of Science program a reality and constitute a unique educational achievement.

The curriculum consists of 132 credits, of which 68 are devoted to the specialized courses in prosthetics and orthotics. The remaining 64 credits are designed to provide a broad educational background. The curriculum, which is offered through the School of Education, was developed in conjunction with the New York University Post-Graduate Medical School and the School of Engineering and Science, with the strong encouragement and support of the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration of the Department of Health. Education, and Welfare. The classroom and laboratory instruction is supplemented by clinical training affiliations with a number of certified limb and brace facilities throughout the country which have been arranged through the cooration of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association.

As additional students receive their degrees in forthcoming years, the momentum towards achieving full professional status will be increased with benefits to both the present and future practitioners of prosthetics and orthotics.

Fig. 3, Fig. 4

CONGRATULATIONS to these two sons of AOPA members who are now enrolled in New York University's four-year Prosthetics and Orthotics Program.

O&P Library > Orthotics and Prosthetics > 1965, Vol 19, Num 2 > pp. 156 - 159

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