Educational Mission

The Georgia Tech MSPO is distinguished by a unique and innovative curriculum. Based on a medical school model, this 2 year full time curriculum has been designed around the mission to produce graduates with advanced training and education in clinical practice and research and to develop problem solving skills for lifelong learning to lead the prosthetics and orthotics profession in the new millennium.

Specific Aims
Philosophy
Mode of Teaching & Learning
Clinical Practicum
MSPO Program within the Institute and Atlanta
Educational Themes

Specific Aims

There are three evolving aims and objectives of the Georgia Tech MSPO education program:

  1. To provide the student with clinical problem solving skills for lifelong learning combined with advanced biomedical engineering education.
  2. To improve prosthetic and orthotic care in the treatment of the physically challenged in the rehabilitation setting.
  3. To conduct investigations to expand the body of knowledge in prosthetics and orthotics.

Philosophy

Similar to a medical education model, the Georgia Tech MSPO education program’s approach to prosthetic and orthotic patient rehabilitation management is founded upon organized problem solving and investigative processes within an interdisciplinary environment.  It is through the interdisciplinary environment that student perspectives on the role of the health care provider, scientist, engineer, and medical specialist is enriched.

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Mode of Teaching & Learning

The curriculum of the Georgia Tech MSPO education program is taught via traditional lecture and laboratory courses in health sciences, medicine, engineering and prosthetics and orthotics. These courses are supplemented by unique modular supervised clinical practica in which students rotate through local hospitals, medical clinics, and prosthetics and orthotics as well as pedorthic health care facilities under the guidance of a credentialed preceptor. The student initially observes and later participates in actual patient care. This approach is similar to established and emerging medical school teaching models. These applied learning experiences occur in parallel to hands-on patient physical examination, treatment planning and orthosis/prosthesis device design and fabrication. Students perform these tasks both off-site in affiliated medical and orthotic/prosthetic and pedorthic facilities as well as on-campus in Georgia Tech’s cutting edge clinical and fabrication facilities including on-campus research laboratories. The three evolving curricular themes are synchronized throughout the curriculum, linking each course with a consistent template for organized applied learning.

Laboratories in biomechanics, materials science, prosthetic/orthotic device design/fabrication and clinical service all augment the traditional lecture and seminar courses. Students and faculty participate in a variety of investigations designed to enhance the student’s learning within an environment where problem solving techniques, inherent in good science, are emphasized. It is through these in-depth and varied science-based experiences that students develop the key elements that distinguish the master’s level of education.

The use of multiple research labs to augment traditional lecture courses enhances learning by creating an environment where students apply knowledge and theory learned in didactic courses to a variety of settings while emphasizing the scientific method. These experiences are conducted under the supervision of experts in science, technology, medicine, health care and P&O. This approach enhances the program’s research mission by providing an avenue for the assessment of existing knowledge in P&O and the development of new knowledge.

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Clinical Practicum

Student clinical practicum rotations begin the first semester of the first year with placements in accredited prosthetics/orthotics, ABC pedorthics, medical, and allied health care facilities through numerous metropolitan Atlanta and national affiliations.

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MSPO Program within the Institute and Atlanta

The Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) education program at Georgia Tech is the first accredited entry-level graduate program in prosthetics and orthotics in the world. The program prepares individuals to be leaders in the field utilizing science as the framework for problem solving. The two-year full time applied science curriculum combines clinically oriented coursework in rehabilitation medicine, allied health science, and prosthetics/orthotics with engineering. At Georgia Tech, the MSPO education program represents one of four focused professional master’s degree programs tailored to meet the needs of business, technology, computer science and health care. The MSPO education program is administered through the School of Applied Physiology as an interdisciplinary graduate program, collaborating with the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Georgia Tech-Emory University School of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, and other Atlanta metropolitan area hospitals, medical centers and orthotics/prosthetics health care facilities.

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Educational Themes

The MSPO education program curriculum consists of 48 credit hours over four semesters and covers three themes:

  1. Applied physiology and engineering
  2. Clinical medicine and prosthetics/orthotics
  3. Applied science and research

Theme 1: Applied Physiology and Engineering (7 credit hours)

Theme 2: Clinical Medicine and Prosthetics/Orthotics (36 credit hours)

Theme 3: Applied Science and Research (5 credit hours)

The first two themes, applied physiology and engineering; and clinical medicine and prosthetics/orthotics, are synchronized so that the content of each course is related to applied clinical situations. Students will develop a framework for problem solving throughout these didactic, laboratory and clinical practica courses. The medical and prosthetics and orthotics courses emphasize rehabilitation medicine in which students learn patient examination and diagnostic principles through didactic coursework, laboratories, and clinical rotations under the guidance of physician specialists, physical therapists and certified orthotists/prosthetists. Problem solving strategies for a variety of patient management and technical device design and fabrication projects are emphasized. The synchronization and depth of clinical content, engineering coursework, science, and problem solving strategies are taught at an advanced level not currently available in most prosthetics and orthotics educational programs.

The third theme, applied science and research, expands the student’s knowledge of medicine and health care and increases the student’s awareness of research methods through the design and completion of a research project. This important part of the curriculum allows the student to formulate a research question and develop the research design to provide the necessary data to address the question(s). This provides essential skills and knowledge for the student prosthetist and orthotist to apply these principles to a profession in need of an expanded scientific knowledge base.

The curricular focal point of the MSPO education program is created by introducing students to a consistent set of patient care scenarios throughout the MSPO program. In this approach to learning, students apply their knowledge of science, engineering, medicine, and technical skills to develop strategies to solve patient care vignettes based on “real world” problems. The purpose of consistently introducing real world problems throughout the curriculum is to challenge students to develop rational solutions, to “think outside of the box” and to utilize science as a framework for problem solving. As students progress through the curriculum, they encounter more complicated and challenging problems which subsequently develops their repertoire of knowledge and skills. Aspects of the vignettes consistently appear within each course, allowing students to investigate the problem and develop solutions from a variety of approaches. Ultimately, this new curricular design encourages students to adopt a well-rounded and organized plan of problem solving and an appreciation for lifelong learning.

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