The Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC) is affiliated with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University (Chicago campus). Located on the 11th floor of the historic 680 North Lake Shore Drive building in the heart of the Northwestern University Medical Center, NUPOC is three blocks from the Lakeside Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) of the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. NUPOC consists of Education and Research Programs that collaborate with consumers, researchers, and clinicians. NUPOC has collaborative education and research interactions with faculty throughout Northwestern University; and with other institutions, including the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), particularly with the Departments of Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinical Services, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. NUPOC integrates Prosthetics and Orthotics (P&O) education and research within a premier university medical setting.
The NUPOC Education Program
The Education Program, formed in 1958, has the longest history among Prosthetics and Orthotics schools in the USA, and continues to be the largest program of its kind in this hemisphere. Accredited by the National Commission on Orthotics and Prosthetics Education (NCOPE), the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center offers a Master’s in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MPO) for persons who wish to pursue a career as a Certified Prosthetist-Orthotist (CPO). Adjacent to the NU Medical Center, NUPOC benefits from the synergy of education, clinical services, and research, making it ideally situated to provide P&O students with unique educational opportunities.
NUPOC's blended learning MPO provides a strong theoretical foundation and clinical practicum to prepare individuals for residency followed by the American Board for Certification (ABC) practitioner-level exam. The MPO consists of didactic and laboratory instruction in: anatomy, kinesiology, pathology, research skills, normal and pathological gait, biomechanics, material science, evaluation, measurement, impression procedures, components, alignment, fitting, and fabrication.
NUPOC also offers intensive Continuing Education and postgraduate courses to professional personnel who serve persons with a physical disability. Classes are open to rehabilitation personnel, including physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, kinesiotherapists, orthotists, prosthetists, and pedorthists. The courses train qualified personnel in the fundamental and advanced prosthetics and orthotics. Continuing education instruction emphasizes new techniques, as well as current concepts of treatment.
A national leader in education and research, NUPOC also advances knowledge internationally. NUPOC educators and researchers publish new research and clinical knowledge in the journal and World Congress of the International Society of Prosthetics & Orthotics (ISPO). International opportunities exist for NUPOC students and graduates who volunteer to participate in NUPOC-International Service (NUPOC-IS), the annual clinical service trip to Guatemala Education Program
The NUPOC Research Program
The Research Program was founded in1958 in tandem with the Education Program. The goal of our research is to improve the quality of life for persons who use prostheses (limb replacements) and orthoses (assistive systems) through creative applications of science and engineering to the field of P&O and to disseminate new knowledge in P&O to the public through publications in professional journals, presentations at symposia, webinars and other media. Research strives to improve quantification and objective scientific evidence that informs P&O clinical decision-making; and to develop new concepts and devices that will improve the quality, cost-effectiveness, and delivery of P&O fittings.
Annually, NUPOC presents training programs that enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge among high school students; and hosts webinars for P&O professionals. Research is funded through competitive grants from agencies that include the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the Department of Defense, the Orthotic and Prosthetic Education and Research Foundation (OPERF) and private industry grants.
Currently designated a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) by NIDRR, the NU RERC for P&O conducts research and development projects; and annually sponsors a Research Scholarship for a student with a physical disability. Research collaborations and educational opportunities exist through associations with multiple university entities, including the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the Feinberg School of Medicine; and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Graduate students working to complete their MS and PhD degrees contribute significantly to our work in research, development, and education.
Training is exceptional at NUPOC where researchers, educators, and clinicians communicate and collaborate to develop evidence-based outcomes that can improve the quality of life for individuals who use prostheses or orthoses for the lower-limb, upper-limb or spine.