Rob Dodson, CPO

Rob Dodson, Alumnus of the Prosthetics Orthotics Program
“At this point in the rehab process, our goal is not to reflect on what happened to the person, but to get them moving forward in whatever capacity that might be.”

BS, Prosthetics and Orthotics
UT Southwestern Medical Center ’01

Clinical Manager
Advanced Arm Dynamics Southwest Center of Excellence

Getting Started

“The profession [prosthetics-orthotics] was one of those ‘light-bulb’ moments in life, where you’re exposed to something and say, ‘Oh my God, this is what I’m supposed to do.’ Through research of UT’s program, I realized that it is kind of upper-echelon of prosthetics and orthotics. Not only did I have the ability to get into the profession here in my hometown, but it was one of the best programs in the country.”

A Unique Profession

“The prosthetics-orthotics students take the same anatomy, physiology, and neuro-anatomy as the physician assistant studies students and the physical therapy studies students … The idea that we could actually do cadaver anatomy in a medical school, for me, that was important in my own training and knowledge. Orthotics is a unique profession in that everything we learn about we actually have to build. We have to physically make these things for a person. And then you have to have patient availability, so a person who’s lost some part of their body you can actually apply these devices to.”

Clinical Experience

“In the program, we had the opportunity to visit different clinics. That’s the glue that held the knowledge together. So by going to various places around Dallas-Fort Worth and seeing the real clinical aspect of the knowledge base I was learning at UT Southwestern, that made it so much more powerful of a program. To become certified, we have to perform a residency per discipline, so a 12-month residency in Prosthetics, then a 12-month residency in Orthotics. My first residency was in the middle of a cornfield in Springfield, Illinois. That residency was one of the best in the country and without going through UT Southwestern’s program, I wouldn’t have had a shot.”

Expanding through Communication

“Our profession is starting to expand in the sense that we have to be able to communicate with medical professionals outside of our little world—surgeons, PMNR physicians, other therapists who are working directly with patients. One of the things I reflect on my experience at UT Southwestern is that the program really prepared me to be able to communicate with those other professionals out there, to gain their respect so we can treat the patient the right way.”

From Carpentry to High-Caliber

“I think what’s happening in our field of prosthetic orthotics—we really came from a carpentry profession, bending metal and working with leather and wood. And we moved to a profession dealing with composite materials, with high-caliber electronics—things that are sometimes a little bit above my head. Part of my job is to create something, but also to pick the right things to put on somebody’s arm, to help make them functional again.”

The Last Word

“Every patient is so different from the next. You may have a person come in who wants their missing hand to look like their other hand, whatever you can do to make it as cosmetically appealing as possible, so they can go into the world and feel like they’re not getting stared at. The next patient might come in and say, ‘All I want is to fish. I want this prosthesis to be a device that will allow me to go deep-sea fishing without being yanked into shark-infested waters.’”