SAOPA Congress 2012.

Strongwinds and torrential rain may have caused a few hiccups but the weather did not dampen the spirit of the annual SAOPA (South African Orthotic and ProstheticAssociation) Congress. 120 delegates and 50 exhibitor delegates found theirraincoats and umbrellas and successfully converged at the La Montagne Resort in Ballito from the 6th - 8th of September 2012.

This year's SAOPA Congress had representation from four other African countries, making it a major southern African event for the Orthotic and Prostheticprofessions. Two highly esteemed guests were flown in, compliments of OttoBock. The first guest was from Tanzania - Harold Shangali, an Executive Boardmember of FATO (African Federation of Orthopaedic Technologists), and thesecond guest was Cisse Ali, the deputy secretary of FATO, who flew in from Coted' Ivoire. Together with delegates from Lesotho and Namibia - there was aninternational flavour to the usual Congress' proceedings.

The twenty exhibitors, put on a fantastic show - they went all out to impress the Orthotists and Prosthetists who were able to spend two and a half days absorbingnew knowledge and information from both the exhibitors and the top class line-up of presenters.

Allan Oates (Chairman, SAOPA) and Mike Barkley (Chairman, ISPO SA (InternationalSociety of Prosthetics and Orthotics, South Africa)) welcomed the delegates tothe 2012 Congress and introduced Harold Shangali, who gave a brief overview of FATO, the African Federation of Orthopaedic Technologists. Product specialist, Drikus Reinceke spoke on the latest Otto Bock products and Andrew Lindstrom(Ripple Effect Consulting) brought everyone up to speed on the Orthotic Digitalrevolution.

This was only the beginning. And with Katy Farr (Ossur) still to speak on Unloader Osseo Arthritis bracing as well as Dr Wim de Klerk's (Medis) piece on stump bandaging and compression pitfalls, it was sure to be a worthwhile two and half days. Johanle Grange (Ossur) was the final presenter for the day speaking on Trans-Tibialseal-in liners.

The first day was not over yet, the ISPO SA AGM, elected their next committee to servefor a three year term and the Compenstion Fund (CF) team held a session withthe suppliers the COIDA (Compensation for Occupational Injuries and DiseasesAct) gazette listings. For the duration of the Congress, CF staff manned a helpdesk which was a valuable addition to the Congress' events. This year, DiscoveryHealth also sponsored the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) scanningsystem and delegates were able to notch up valuable CEU's (Continuing EducationUnits) for their annual portfolios.

After abusy and wet first day, the delegates were treated to the "Ossur Braai Evening" with great music and delicious food.

The second day of Congress was just as intense in terms of imparting and sharing knowledge. Speakers such as Dr Wim de Klerk and Kristy Carr spoke on topicsvarying from DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) prevention and insurance protocols, respectively. After lunch, there were presentations on the new andrevolutionary Symbionic Limb from Ossur (presented by Johan le Grange) and Dr Paul Hurrin presented the premium Quintic Kinematic Footscan.

On Friday afternoon, SAOPA hosted their AGM where several new faces were elected to an expanded Executive committee. This was followed by The SAOPA Gala Dinner in the Pumpkin Theatre. The theatre had truly been transformed and our hosts, Brianand Nicci McKibbin and their team put on a spectacular dinner. DJO Global generously sponsored the wine and the fantastic entertainment.

Special awards went to:

Knight Medical for the "Best Expo stand" trophy, with last years champions, Ossur, insecond place and Otto Bock placed a close third.

The top TUT students awards for the Best Practical Student wentto Norman Campbell and the Best Academic and Best Overall student went to Mitch Venter.

The two FATO representatives, Harold Shangali and Cisse Ali, assisted in starting unitytalks between SAOPA and MOPASA received special recognition, as well as both the SAOPA Chairman, Allan Oates, and ISPO SA Chairman, Mike Barkley, who wereboth unanimously re-elected to their posts at the respective AGM's.

Following the awards, the Pumpkin Theatre rocked to the sounds of Danny Fischer and thethree Blondes. Their music got the audience to their feet, the crowd partied onand the evening will long be remembered by all those who attended.

But the main show was not over yet!

On Saturday morning, we still had a full agenda to get through. Mike Barkley did ademonstration on Trans-Fibial casting, followed by JolizeGerber (DJO Global) who spoke on concepts in hip injury management.

OttoBock's Drikus Reinecke kept the audience enthused as he delivered his talk onFuture Prosthetics and the last item for the 2012 Congress was Rodin4D's techniquesfor scoliosis treatment and casting, presented by Mickael Guimberteau.

It was another great Congress, but it had come to an end. Allan Oates proudly closed the proceedings and the delegates headed home with minds full of new information, ideas and solutions. True to Murphy's Law, the sun was out on Saturday and the weather cleared up as we left for home!