Knowledge of issues beyond traditional O&P practice can improve patient care | Advanced prosthetics are developing into huge market | Soft polymer robots offer potential O&P applications
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December 3, 2013
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News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Knowledge of issues beyond traditional O&P practice can improve patient care
Rather than always making a referral, O&P practitioners should educate themselves about issues outside their traditional practice to improve patient care, according to this article. A base-level knowledge of how medications work -- including those for pain, water retention and diabetes -- and how they could interfere with care is important, according to Megan Ehret, associate professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Connecticut. Prosthetists and orthotists can work with patients to prevent skin issues such as infections before calling a dermatologist, says Dr. Jan Geertzen, head of the University Medical Center Groningen’s rehabilitation medicine. Also, a number of approaches to diet and exercise offer practitioners a variety of ways to help patients manage their weight. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (12/2013)
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Advanced prosthetics are developing into huge market
With such techniques as the Research Institute of Chicago’s targeted muscle reinnervation and Defense Department funding for advanced mind-controlled prosthetic limbs, the global market for treating amputees is expanding fast, according to scientists and other experts. Össur, for example, says the prosthetic market for the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia is between $850 million and $950 million. "There's an incredible opportunity to help many, many millions of people around the world with this technology," said the RIC's Levi Hargrove. "We're allowing people to do things that in some cases they haven't done for years, decades even." CNBC (11/28)
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Soft polymer robots offer potential O&P applications
A new generation of shape-shifting or "soft" robots, made of different polymer materials and inflated with compressed air or water, could serve as orthotic devices to support weakened muscles, assist in lifting heavy warehouse items or serve as prosthetic hands that conform to the object being held. The technology also could be used in biomedical devices. ScientificAmerican.com (12/2), Fast Company online (12/2)
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Medical News
Study: More than 25% of youth with type 2 diabetes have peripheral neuropathy
Young people with type 2 diabetes have a higher prevalence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy than those with type 1 diabetes, with rates approaching those of adults with type 2, according to a study of 399 subjects diagnosed before age 20. The study, conducted by the University of Michigan, was published in the journal Diabetes Care. "Because of the significant disability brought on by [this, including] pain, poor quality of life, ulcers, and amputations, it is essential that physicians be aware that diabetic peripheral neuropathy can occur early," said principal investigator Dr. Eva Feldman. Medscape (free registration) (11/27)
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Legislative and Regulatory
Medicare self-audits can help correct small issues before they become big problems
Conducting an effective self-audit can help O&P facilities prepare for a Medicare audit, writes AOPA Director of Coding and Reimbursement Services Joe McTernan. Consistency in self-audits is key, and whoever conducts the audit needs to be well-versed in Medicare regulations. The audit should examine initial and detailed written orders, proof of delivery documentation, and documentation from sources outside your organization. "[A] thorough and effective process today may save you from serious consequences tomorrow," he concludes. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (12/2013)
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HealthCare.gov can now handle "vast majority," White House says
The goal of making HealthCare.gov work for the "vast majority" of consumers has been met, and the site can now handle more than 800,000 consumers daily and concurrently support 50,000 users, HHS and CMS representatives said Sunday in a briefing. The White House acknowledged that additional work is needed to improve the troubled website and that enrollment reports sent to insurers may be inaccurate. "The bottom line: HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1st is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1st," the tech team's Jeff Zients said. Reuters (12/1), The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (12/1), Politico (Washington, D.C.) (12/1), Forbes (12/1)
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Business and Finance
Employee retirement plan can pay off for small-business owners
Offering employees a retirement plan may be low on a list of financial priorities for small-business owners, but it has tangible benefits, Carla Turchetti writes. She outlines options starting with a simple payroll deduction that costs a business owner nothing. Intuit Small Business Blog (11/26)
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Start strategizing to reduce your tax bill
Now is the time to begin planning for next year's federal tax return, Bonnie Lee writes. This takes on added importance if your business has experienced higher than average income this year. "Strategizing to lower your year-end tax bill should include consideration of purchasing new equipment, furniture, machinery, vehicles and other assets in order to take advantage of Section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation," Lee writes. Fox Business Small Business Center (11/27)
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AOPA News
Breaking news from AOPA
AOPA release: Important HCPCS code/competitive bidding update--don’t miss it! Speaking of codes, mark your calendars--the popular AOPAversity December audio conference on new codes for 2014 is coming--register now! Survive and thrive with New O&P Business Education for 21st Century Entrepreneurs--stay up to date! Become a presenter at the 2014 AOPA National Assembly--the place to be! The 2014 Medicare open enrollment period deadline is extended--all of this and more in today’s AOPA Breaking News.
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