Treatments & Research

Pops Culture at Shriner’s Children

DRTV Filming in Tampa, FL; TCM Creative (March 2021)

Orthotic and prosthetic services provide unique possibilities for kids

Shriners Children’s Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Service (POPS), LLC, designs, manufactures and fits orthotics and prosthetics for children of all ages, from infants to young adults. These devices not only provide children with the mobility and independence to do everything from walk to play musical instruments, but they’re also customized well beyond just form and function. They give kids a chance to express themselves and take pride in their abilities. Last year, POPS served 6,000 patients across all facilities.

Patients can have prosthetics custom-made
in their favorite designs and colors, with the perfect fit.

Growing together

Shriners Children’s has POPS coverage across the system, and the team works with the medical staff to evaluate a child’s needs and abilities. POPS orthotists and prosthetists create custom devices, including shoe inserts, braces and artificial limbs (both arms and legs) that provide the support children need to perform basic daily functions, in addition to the sports and extracurricular activities they love.

Using noninvasive, advanced computer aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) technologies, the team collects detailed images of the patient and sends them electronically to a fabrication center
to manufacture the device using the most advanced materials. The completed device is then custom-fitted to the patient. Devices are designed with an emphasis on exceptional fit, comfort and appearance that improve function and mobility, reduce pain and allow children to live life with confidence.

“The goal of the entire team is to prescribe a device that will protect, correct and/or assist a child to improve function and outcomes,” explained Joanne Kanas, Shriners Children’s director of orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) and president of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists. “For a fracture, we can make or provide a device to protect the fracture or (post-operatively) for healing. A scoliosis brace will correct or prevent progression of a spinal scoliosis curve. And many of our devices enable kids to walk, run, jump and play.”

Grace proudly poses alongside each set of prosthetic legs she has received from the POPS team over her lifetime.

The POPS team understands the unique requirements of kids’ growing bodies and how those requirements change and evolve as children get older. As kids grow and their interests expand, their devices are customized and refitted to meet their needs.

The endless POPS-abilities

A visit to POPS is more than measurements and mechanics. It’s about learning the hopes and dreams of patients and providing the orthotic or prosthetic that will help them reach those dreams.

For the toddler, it could be a prosthetic decked out in their favorite color or Disney character; for the young child, a new leg with their hometown sports team logo; for the teen, a prosthetic foot that slips into high heels for the junior prom; for a swimmer, a prosthetic arm to perfect the breaststroke; or for the cellist, an adaptive device to grip the bow.

“We see a lot of very unique devices – some that many private O&P practices never or rarely see,” said Kanas. “If a child wants to play the guitar, mountain climb or play baseball, we make a device specific to fit the needs of that activity.”

Going bionic

For some patients, the adaptability opportunities prosthetics provide can be taken to the next level with high-tech devices like the Hero Arm, created by Open Bionics, which is a bionic arm that provides the movement and dexterity of a traditional hand.

Ian’s Hero Arm gives him the dexterity of a traditional hand.

Ian, a patient at Shriners Children’s New England, thrived with different prostheses, using them to do everything from mountain biking to kayaking. His success made him an ideal candidate for a Hero Arm.

Ian made a list of 29 things he couldn’t wait to do with it, and scooping ice cream was high on that list. The POPS team helped him check it off with a surprise ice cream party on the day his Hero Arm arrived. Ian had handshakes and high fives for everyone, and he practiced his Jedi moves with a light saber and sank a few putts on a miniature golf green at the hospital.

“Ian amazed us and even himself with what he was able to do and learn in just the first 24 hours,” said his mom, Jen. “But the best part was the smile on his face as he tried many new tasks for the first time, like twisting the cap off of a water bottle or cutting open the spice packet for his ramen noodles.”

Ian celebrates his newfound capabilities with an ice cream party.

When Ian was able to open the refrigerator with one hand while holding a bowl of watermelon in the other, it
was a celebratory moment. “Those little things add up to making a big difference in Ian’s daily life,” said Jen. “It increases his level of independence, which increases his self-confidence.” What is the work of POPS really all about? “The kids!” said Kanas. “We all want to keep hitting and raising the bar to improve outcomes for the patients and families we serve.”

More POPS Access for Children in Florida

Shriners Children’s is proud to announce that orthotic and prosthetic care is expanding to children who are not patients of the healthcare system. Now any child in the community can receive the amazing services POPS provides. For more information, call 813-975-7139.