First Place in National Prosthetic & Orthotics Convention Won by Four ASU Students

News Date
By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU
Alabama State University has long been acknowledged to have one of America's finest prosthetic and orthotics (P.& O.) programs among institutions of higher education (located in its College of Health Sciences), and a recently won first-place prize in a national competition by four of its master's degree students reinforces this opinion.  
The four students - Avery Strickland; Dennis Counihan; Rachel Fontenot & Ryan Chidester - all won first-place in the American Academy of Prosthetic & Orthotics' National Convention in Chicago for their research project (presented in a poster format) that enables people to more easily use an advanced and sought after "mechanical hand" through the use of virtual reality software that they wrote. 
The "mechanical hand" in question has been in use, but has been extremely difficult to teach people to both use and master - that is until these Hornets looked at the issue and devised a better way to teach those in need of its use explained Dr. Charlene Portee, dean of ASU's College of Health Sciences.
"Winning a top prize is a wonderful accolade to obtain, but what these ASU students won it for is nothing less than amazing," Portee said.
The research prize won by these four ASU graduate-level students concerns and utilizes a software program that they wrote that helps capture electrodes in the body of a patient and transfers them into a previously invented "mechanical hand," which allows it to work and allows the patient to lead a more normal life with the use of an artificial device "hand" used in place of an amputated or impaired hand.
"It is a formidable accomplishment that our ASU prosthetic and orthotics students won their national first-place prize for at the national convention in Chicago," Portee said. "This accomplishment both reflects the high standards and excellence of the P. and O. program at ASU; its phenomenal faculty members led by Dr. Scott Bretl, and the advanced intellect and accomplishments of our students," Portee added.
Bretl is chairman of ASU's P.& O. department and accompanied nine ASU students and two other faculty members to the convention with four of the students winning the national award. He wrote a note to Portee exclaiming his happiness just after the students won first-place.
"Just thought you'd be happy to hear that one of our student research groups took first-place among the voting for best poster. All our students did a really great job," Bretl explained.
Portee said that the College of Health Science always strives for excellence, just as the rest of the University does in all of its academic pursuits.
"Here at Alabama State University, we strive to teach our students to be the very best that they can be, and our Health Science students certainly obtained it in Chicago with this award," she stated.