A shelf full of prosthetic limbs at a prosthetics facility isn’t a problem in and of itself. But when those limbs are piling up because the recipients can’t get in for their fitting appointments, the situation cries out for a solution.
That’s what spurred Veterans Affairs prosthetist Eli Kaufman to launch the Mobile Prosthetic and Orthotic Care program (MoPOC) in 2018. If amputees couldn’t get to the clinic, Kaufman reasoned, he’d have to take the clinic to the amputees.
After successfully piloting the program in the Puget Sound region last year, Kaufman (who directs the VA’s Center for Limb Loss and Mobility near Seattle) is now taking MoPOC nationwide. The expansion will accelerate a trend that’s finding traction all over the country as prosthetists look for ways to serve the growing ranks of amputees (both veteran and civilian) who face challenges getting to and from their clinic.
As he developed MoPOC, Kaufman found that many factors deterred his patients from showing up for prosthetic care. The most common hurdles included travel time, transit costs, and complicating health factors. People living in nursing homes frequently lacked any reasonable form of transportation. Among the veterans Kaufman serves, PTSD often came into play. And the onset of COVID last year exacerbated all of these barriers.
As he rolled out the MoPOC pilot program, Kaufman developed specialized vehicles capable of bringing full-service prosthetic care directly to an amputee’s door. Assembling a fleet of such vehicles to provide coast-to-coast coverage has brought a whole new set of challenges. Every vehicle is a custom build, tailored to accommodate the weather, terrain, and geographic scope of its particular region.
“It’s not like you go to a car lot and say, ‘I want that one. I’ll take that home today,’” Kaufman explained this spring as he kicked off the national rollout. “There are many, many steps involved.”
Mobile prosthetic services are popping up all over the country. Here are some clinics that currently offer mobile service: