Faculty of Medical Technology
Department of Prosthetics & Orthotics and Assistive Technology
The number of elderly people has been growing rapidly. Maintaining the QOL is the most urgent issue for our society because health care for senior citizens is a hard task for their families. Increasingly, the application of assistive products is being recommended. A wide variety of complex devices, such as computerized artificial limbs, orthotic devices with dumper mechanisms, electric powered wheelchairs, power assisted beds, and communication aid systems, are now available. However, these devices need to be carefully selected, adjusted, and adapted according to their limitations, the potential ability of each person and environmental conditions. In addition, housing renovation should be considered in some cases. With all these efforts, self independence can be achieved. To make this possible, there must be a specialized health care professional who can evaluate the capabilities of each person, who can consider the environment, who knows a lot about assistive devices, and who can communicate with families and other professionals. Therefore, we aim to produce such professionals in the Department of Prosthetics & Orthotics and Assistive Technology.
Characteristics of the curriculum
In order to be accredited as a School of Prosthetics and Orthotics by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare Japan, the school curriculum must contain all of the specific educational subjects related to medicine, engineering and prosthetics & orthotics, which have been set up under the law. In addition to following this regulation, our curriculum includes subjects covering liberal arts, and health & welfare.
As one of the characteristics of the curriculum and in order to meet our social needs, we additionally set up some specialized subjects regarding assistive technology, such as Wheelchair, Seating and Communication Aids. This is what most of the P&O schools in the country have never tried before. The 4-year curriculum can be described as follows: Students in the 1st year start learning liberal arts and some introductory subjects as prerequisites for the specialized program. For some basic medical subjects, the 1st year covers physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, mathematics, physics, and others. The Introduction to Core Skills is one of the practical subjects for freshmen, where students learn how to deal with related materials, such as plastics, metals, plaster of Paris, and leather. The curricula of the 2nd and the 3rd year contain subjects related to medical science, such as orthopedics and rehabilitation medicine, and some common ones required by healthcare professionals. In addition, students learn what effects a prosthesis/orthosis/assistive products have on dysfunction in certain specialized subjects. The Clinical Placement 1 and 2 also give the students opportunities to see what roles healthcare professionals play in clinics and how important their future profession might be. In the 3rd and 4th year curricula, students will be required to integrate their knowledge and skills to attend some classes regarding Inter-Professional Education. In those sessions, students need not only their expertise but also their communication skills in order to discuss and establish solutions for clinical cases with the other group members.
Qualifications and careers
National licenses or qualifications we aim for:
- Qualification to take the national examination for certified prosthetists and orthotists
- Qualification of Assistive Products Consultant
- Qualification of Assistive Products Planner
- Qualification of Housing Environment Coordinator for Elderly and Disabled People
The 1st cohort of students at our department graduated in 2011. We expect that they will expand their prosthetic and orthotic professional skills in the near future. We are sure that their expertise and knowledge of "man-machine matching" will enable them to have a lot of job opportunities not only in the fields of prosthetics and orthotics, but also in assistive technologies. They will also contribute to the improvement of disabled people's QOL. In fact, the university has received many job advertisements for our graduates from a wide range of welfare facilities, such as welfare centers, assistive care centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, car industries, house industries, and so on.
Two fitting rooms are mostly used in "Patient Contact Sessions", in which the students practice fitting prosthesis, orthosis and other devices, and measuring and casting. From these sessions the students learn not only how prosthetic alignment affects walking, but also the required attitudes for prosthetists and orthotists as health care professionals.
Plaster modification practice is provided in this room. Plaster modification is one of the crucial manufacturing procedures for providing a well-fitting prosthesis and orthosis. Knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics and pathology must be integrated into the process. Since plaster of Paris is used in this room, all of the work benches are water proofed, and the floor is specially designed to keep it clean from plaster dust.
Plastic molding room
Thermoplastic is one of the common materials used in prosthetics/orthotics/assistive products. Plastic is molded over a modified plaster model in a procedure known as "Plastic Molding." There are electric ovens to soften plastic sheets, and vacuum machines to produce negative pressure over the plastic on the model.
Students practice sanding plastic or wood in the machinery room. The Prosthetic/Orthotic portions, which are made of plastic, metal, and/or wooden materials, are sanded and polished by sanding machines. We are proud of this room because it is equipped with state-of-the-art machines, such as German-manufactured curving machines, which can be adjusted to the height of the students, belt sanders, a specially designed orthotic shoe manufacturing machine, and others. These machines are arranged in a wide area based on our safety-first policy. The central automatic air evacuation system helps clean the dusty air produced by the sanding procedure and to supply clean air back into the room.
Students assemble all the components/portions, such as molded plastic shells, bended metallic uprights, and prosthetic/orthotic joints, in this room. The tools required for assembly procedures are available in the store room next to the assembly room. In addition, the room is designed for resin lamination practice. In order to ventilate toxic gas, which is produced during the lamination procedure to make prosthetic socket and apply an adhesive, individual duct hoses are set up at each workbench.
Short stays at the University of Pittsburgh in the U.S.A
Prof. H. Ohnabe (Adjunct Professor of University of Pittsburgh) guides our students in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, Human Engineering Research Laboratory, QOL Technology Center and Sports Arena. The students can attend lectures given by university professors and learn about the latest technologies.
They can also receive explanations on the PO graduate course. They will visit PO manufacturers, too. The most important thing is to motivate students in order to design their future careers.
Visits to Germany
Germany has a unique educational system, which is called the "mister system", under which many advanced technologies have been produced in the prosthetic & orthotic field. Therefore, we have a program of short-term visits to Germany. During the stay, we visit several manufactures, including the largest companies in the P&O field, and welfare facilities.
Scientific and technical collaboration with Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Centre (SNMRC) in Thailand
In 2009, our department and SNMRC have exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding and since then started a collaborative program focusing on Gait Analysis Technologies. One of the objectives is to promote mutual cooperation on research of Motion Analysis. We set up a specific action plan for 2009-2011 and, as the first stage of the project, we started holding some technical workshops both in SNMRC and our department to enhance better understanding on the basic physics of human movement dynamics.