Digital Resources for the Orthotics and Prosthetics Community

Mary P. Novotny RN, MS


In 1998, oandp.com began an effort to greatly expand the amount of O&P-related reference material available online with the digitization of the full library of the Academy's Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics (JPO), from 1989 to present. A few years later, 11 years of the Journal of the Association of Children's Prosthetic Orthotic Clinics (JACPOC) was added to this collection. Both of these journals are available online in keyword searchable format, with multiple display and printing options. The online journals are still owned by the associations that publish them, but they are presented in a highly accessible and usable format through technology developed by oandp.com.

These online journals have proven to be very useful, but they represent only a small percentage of the published material that could be made available online to the benefit of the entire O&P community including professionals, researchers, vendors and consumers. What is truly needed is a Virtual Library that continuously expands, providing more and more useful O&P-related reference material in a consistent format that is easy to access.

Developing a Virtual Library is one of the goals that prompted the formation of the Digital Resource Foundation for the Orthotics and Prosthetics Community (DRFOP), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization incorporated in 2002 with a mission of developing computer-based resources to benefit the worldwide orthotics and prosthetics community including professionals, service providers, patients and families. Other priority goals include the development of a world wide humanitarian database and a global resource network. DRFOP will accomplish these goals by working collaboratively with individuals, agencies, organizations and institutions who share the goal of improving the quality of care provided by the profession through greater access to information.

Priorities for the Virtual Library project include completion of the JACPOC library and digitization of historic materials of Ben Wilson's personal library donated to DRFOP as a memorial by his wife Jan. This work involves several phases: bibliographic indexing, obtaining copyright permission, scanning text and illustration/ photos, optical character recognition, proof reading and finally listing in the searchable virtual library. The 11 years of JACPOC currently available represents less than half of the journals published. The Foundation still needs originals for scanning, as well as volunteers and funding to support the effort. If you can help with financial assistance, volunteering your time or donating additional resource holdings of memorial collections please contact the DRFOP using the information given at the end of this article.

Another major DRFOP project that is already underway is the development of a Humanitarian Database. The project began in 2001 as part of an NCOPE thesis designed by Tony Korjagin who was then a prosthetic resident. While performing mission work Tony recognized the challenges of communicating with volunteer organizations in other countries and set out to develop an online resource that would share information about humanitarian efforts operating throughout the world. His goal is to simplify the process of locating assistance in all parts of the world and to help people who would like to get involved identify organizations that are seeking volunteers or resources. When available, this database will be searchable by geographic location, type of assistance needed, services provided, and opportunities for involvement.

There are many other online information resources available worldwide that provide information valuable to the orthotics and prosthetics community. The DRFOP will also be creating a Resource Network that brings all of these resources together and makes them easier for information seekers to access. Resources will be categorized and descriptions will be added so that users can quickly locate the information sources that would be most valuable to them.

The ultimate goal of all projects being untaken by the DRFOP is to provide revolutionary advances in communication and information sharing among professionals, researchers, consumers and other members of the orthotic and prosthetic community, improving the quality of patient care worldwide.

Please visit the Digital Resource Foundation for the Orthotics and Prosthetics Community website at www.drfop.org for more information, or to search the JPO and JACPOC journals that are already available in the Virtual Library.

Resources, Humanitarian information and JACPOC originals are already being collected from individuals and known organizations. The information database will be kept up to date by allowing each organization to update their information through the Internet. Organizations that would like to be included and volunteers that would be willing to help out with the information collection process should contact the DRFOP. If you have questions or would like to get involved with any of these projects, please contact me by e-mail at mary@drfop.org, or call the DRFOP office at 800-876-7740.

Mary Novotny is a rehab nurse, educator, consumer advocate and long-term member of ACPOC. While working as a clinical nurse specialist and rehab consultant, Mary founded the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), providing leadership and vision for the organization from 1986-99. In 1997 she developed the National Limb Loss Information Center (NLLIC) through a cooperative agreement with the ACA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 1999 she initiated a cooperative research project with John Hopkins University focused on Limb Loss Statistics. In addition to co-founding the DRFOP, Mary continues consulting and serves as an advisory member to a number of national agencies. She will be presenting an update on DRFOP at ISPO next August in Hong Kong.