Durbin Visits RIC to Introduce Legislation to Support Prosthetic and Orthotic Research and Education to Meet Demand for Veterans’ Care
From left, Drs. Kuiken, Smith introduce Sen. Durbin
CHICAGO — The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Center For Bionic Medicine is recognized around the world for leading the field, training the best and brightest, and pioneering the science of bionics. And our care for those who have lost limbs is among the very best. So we were honored Monday when US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) choose RIC as the host site to announce a pair of bills designed to support the field of prosthetics and orthotics.
“Chicago is at the front of the pack when it comes to prosthetic and orthotic training and research,” said Durbin. “I will introduce two bills to help spread that good work to the rest of the country. The men and women who suffer serious injuries in the line of duty have already sacrificed enough. They should expect nothing less than the highest standard of care throughout their lives.”
Sen. Durbin (left) speaks with Perry Pinto
Dr. Joanne Smith escorted the Senator to one of our Center’s labs on the 14th Floor, where he was greeted by Dr. Todd Kuiken, researcher Levi Hargrove and a group of RIC biomedical engineers, prosthetists and residents. The media were there to capture a fascinating demonstration of patient Perry Pinto with Kuiken and Hargrove’s latest bionic leg. Senator Durbin also met Lance Corporal Ed McDonough from Homewood, IL. McDonough lost his leg in Afghanistan, was cared for by RIC and recently decided to pursue the field of prosthetics professionally.
“The Senator has been a friend and champion of RIC for many years,” said Smith. “We are grateful for his support and acknowledgement that our organization is in a unique position to change the game for so many patients. The technologies coming online with smarter systems, interfaces that allow limbs to be powered by our minds—that’s a big jump and as leaders we need to help the field prepare for that jump. These bills do that.”
Durbin was joined at the press conference by Smith and Kuiken, introducing the following legislation:
- The Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act: a competitive grant, a competitive grant program to help colleges and universities develop master’s degree programs focusing on prosthetics and orthotics (P&O)
- The Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act: establishing the first centralized collection of outcome-based research and empirical data for P&O fittings. The bill also requires the VA to establish a Center of Excellence in Prosthetic and Orthotic Education to provide evidence-based research on the knowledge, skills and training clinical professionals need to care for veterans. Chicago would be a leading contender for that Center of Excellence.
“We live in very exciting times for rehabilitation in general, and Prosthetics/Orthotics specifically,” said Kuiken. “There are amazing technologies starting to emerge that will transform patients’ lives. With the number of people affected by limb loss in the U.S. alone at 600,000 plus and growing, and only 7,000 experts with many retiring, this need is great and the opportunity significant.”
The work of Dr. Kuiken and Hargrove and their teams has contributed greatly to putting RIC on the global innovation map, and closing the gap between what could be and what is possible. We thank Senator Durbin for recognizing this scientific momentum and fueling our vision to Advance Human Ability
Links to sample news coverage
WLS ABC Channel 7
WTTW Chicago Tonight