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Student Blog

Bryce Dahl – IIOP Student Blog, 1/26/2020

Back here in Tampa, Fl as we’ve just begun our third week back at IIOP! So far we’ve fabricated our wrist hand orthoses (WHO’s) and managed to stay Covid-free as we are back in the building where it all started. We’ve been primarily focusing on the upper extremity (which is nice because I was focused on lower all through rotation) and are moving rapidly through our IIOP course material. Friday we wrapped up our MMT and ROM practicals and had our White Coat Ceremony to make it official as we prepare to be health care professionals and search for our next step of residency.

In the weeks to come we will be sharpening our hand skills with fabrication of upper extremity prosthetics, transfemoral prosthetics, and knee-ankle-foot-orthotics. It feels great to be back in Tampa with the boys, and with the 70 degree and sunny weather here in Janurary, I’d say 2021 is off to a great start!!


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Onny Mbagwu – IIOP Student Blog – January 22, 2021

Hola! I hope everyone enjoyed their week. Just a quick update because we literally had two days of class because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Thursday and Friday, we were off.

               This week, we ended our introduction to lab skills and material class. It was a fun way to learn about the tools we would be using as O&P practitioners and how to use the tools. The best part of the class was that there weren’t any exams lol. On Tuesday, we got right into it and performed AFO casting on our peers. Remembering what I learned in my first semester of IIOP, I was able to identify the main bony landmarks to be distinguished inside of the cast for later use.  Let me tell you right now, I most definitely like using fiberglass for casting more than paster. The plaster was a struggle to use and my cast fell apart a couple of times. I could have done it all day though because, to be honest, it felt like I was crafting a phenomenal art piece. You can call me Onny Picasso or LeOnny Da Vinci.

               After working hard on my cast, I decided I wanted to take the leg home with me and pull a prank on my roommate. Ahh what a great way to end the week.

See all again next week! 😊

-Onny or LeOnny Da Vinci

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Onny Mbagwu – IIOP Student Blog – January 15, 2021

Helloooo! Week 1 and we are back in action! I think the upperclassmen hyped me up for this second semester. I heard through the grapevine that the first semester would be the most challenging and so far, they were right. The days are much longer but it goes by fast when you are enjoying it. I think it was funny to see my roommate’s reaction when I told her I had fun in class today. “Say what??? Fun? At school?”

Anyway, this week we got straight to work. From metal bending to creating our own tools like the inside and outside calipers, heel wedges, and even sewing velcro together to fabricate AFO straps. I enjoyed it all. Using the bigger machines like the bandsaw, the workmaster drum, and the dry blaster gave me a bit of the nerves, but after a few hours of learning the techniques and taking my time to get to know the machines, I have become a pro. They look scary but the machines are most definitely safe if used correctly.

Welp, that’s all for now. Can’t wait for next week!


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Onny Mbagwu – IIOP Student Blog – January 6, 2021

Happy New Year everyone! I hope this year will be filled with good health, happiness, and prosperity. My name is Onny Mbagwu and I am the newest edition to the IIOP bloggers team! Firstly, I would like to congratulate all of those who graduated this December 2020, for you all have served as a guide for me and my future success in the O and P field.

I always knew that I wanted to be in the medical field, but I was not sure of where I wanted to be. Being interested in anatomy and psychology, I changed my major from biology to psychology, while also taking pre-medical classes. In almost every one of my psychology classes, the professors talked about Phantom Limb Pain Syndrome. I was beyond fascinated with that topic and began researching more about it. Learning about Phantom Limb, led me to research more about O&P and here I am!

My first semester was as challenging as expected. I think everyone gets a bit nervous because we don’t know how large the coursework is, we don’t know what to expect or what kind of professors we would have. Also, I was in a whole new state and did not know anyone. Although I was coming fresh out of undergrad, you all should know that everything I learned in undergrad has vanished, except for my acquired skills in time management, and Microsoft Office. However, I noticed that even after completing my first semester here, I am able to retain the information that I have learned in all of my classes.  I was lucky to have a great cohort, professors, and upperclassmen who offered their help and allowed me to open up and ask questions about the information that I did not understand or was confused about.

This is just a formal introduction as the newest addition to the bloggers’ team. As you follow the rest of my journey in this program, I hope you all will enjoy reading about my fun-filled experience and education at IIOP and in the O&P world.


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Bryce Dahl – IIOP student, International Clinical Rotation (Quito, Ecuador) Back to the States 12/21/2020


Dec 21th, 2020

Here I am on the flight back from Bogotá to Miami and can’t help but reminisce on all the cool opportunities and blessings given to me this year. These past few days in Colombia has been a great way to cap off the year, but unfortunately my rotation at the nearby clinic fell through upon arrival due to COVID restrictions (surprise surprise). But that didn’t stop me from having the best “solo” touristy weekend I’ve ever had. Sooo now the real reason I was sent to Bogota…

One sunny Saturday in Quito, I get a call from IIOP director, Mrs. Arlene Gillis, asking me if I would be interested in a mission to travel from Quito to Bogotá, Colombia on my way back to the U.S. and retrieve the cremated remains of a close friend to IIOP. The friend (let’s call him Mr. Juan) had passed away unexpectedly while doing mission work in Bogota, and the certain packaging restrictions kept the embassy from mailing the remains back to the U.S.

The plan was to do a few days of rotation due to COVID restrictions upon arrival I was informed the clinic could not take me for my safety (hate covid for being such a Debbie downer); however, Mr. Juan and I had the most spectacular views and room service from our hotel window and got to see some of the coolest sights of tourism all around the city. My assigned driver from IIOP took us for lessons of culture around the old cathedrals and to some of the best restaurants I’ve been to (one was 204 years old).  Yeah, safe to say I’m not mad about the 4 days of amazing food, drinks, and culture that Bogotá possesses. Thank you to IIOP for calling on me to assist the family of the missionary.

Needless to say from starting my education at IIOP, to farming new crops and new friends in Tampa Fl, and to traveling to South America to learn so much more, 2020 you were tough but I think I’ve got you beat. I’m excited to see long awaited friends and family back in Nashville. Thank you for tuning in, reading, and being part of my IIOP educational experience. See you in 2021.


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Bryce Dahl – IIOP student, International Clinical Rotation (Quito, Ecuador) 12/16/2020

Last Week in Ecuador…Next Stop Colombia

Dec 16th, 2020

Wrapping up my last week here in Quito and it’s already bittersweet. I’m excited to see my friends and family back home; however, the three months I’ve spent here this year have been the most peaceful, exciting, and self- established period of time that I’m only grateful for.

Exciting enough, I’m going to be traveling to Bogota, Colombia this Friday to wrap up my semester at Centro de Rehabilitacion en Ortesis y Protesis Laboratorio Gilete. This will complete my 4th clinical rotation this semester and I am stoked to get to see Colombia!

I’ve been finishing up many projects before I leave and hopefully I will be able to leave the clinic more accessible to future students who want to come and find the same experience I have. The idea of a future IIOP campus in Quito, Ecuador is not that crazy.

I’m going to miss this special place, even the dirty looks and cultural judgement. If I’ve learned anything it’s that you’ll never know if you never take a chance. Risk is scary, but opportunities are hard to come by…. especially in the year 2020.

Take a chance, go for broke, and remember to laugh when it doesn’t work out. This world is beautiful and as much darkness and hardship remain, there is still goodness waiting for someone to find it.

Thank you for reading. See you in Colombia!






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Bryce Dahl – IIOP student, International Clinical Rotation (Quito, Ecuador) 12/10/2020

Patients and Cumbre de Pasachoa

Dec 10th, 2020

This past week was one I’ll never forget as I got to fit a bilateral transfemoral patient (and new friend) Nicol, with her new sockets and feet (my first solo modifications). She will use a prosthetic system without knees until she has acclimated to the distal pressure and gains control of her balance on her residual limbs. Previously I met Katherine (experienced prosthetic user) and made her a new definitive polypropylene socket. We made a pivot on her plan of care and decided to fabricate a REVO Fit2 carbon fiber adjustable socket. This new socket will allow her to fluctuate volume during her pregnancy and will allow for her to participate in her dance classes that she loves.

An emotional week to say the least as this was the first week I got to see real fruition in my own work. The chase for the perfect socket is just beginning but it is so satisfying to find something I can love and be progressive in. Getting to connect with patients while providing a service is so cool and I am so fortunate to have had this amazing opportunity.


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Francesca Cicchetti – IIOP Student Blog – December 2, 2020

Good afternoon everyone!

Happy HUMP DAY! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are not still in food comas….

We are (sadly) finishing up our semester and time here at IIOP, but these past few weeks have been great! The week before Thanksgiving, we hosted a White Coat Ceremony for the newest cohort followed by a nice Thanksgiving lunch! It was an honor to be able to donn their white coats and welcome them into the O&P Field J They have been killing it at school this semester and we are all so proud of them! Later on, that day, Jorge and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Great American Teach-In and share with the 6th graders at the LLT Academy a little about what we, as Orthotists and Prosthetists, do! It was so much fun and all the students had really great questions for us…my favorite was “Do you make bionic skin?” So there’s an idea for us to get crackin’ on!

The following week we started our upper extremity prosthetics class. Our first project was a mock prosthesis that we actually casted ourselves for! It was a really involved project, but we had a great time doing it. The toughest part was assembling the cable system but with some teamwork, persistence, and a few sweat droplets, we got it DONE!

Today, our patient model, Richard, came in for a casting for our second project of the self-suspending transradial prosthesis! He was so patient with us…since all 8 of us (Ms. Crawford too with her demo) casted him. We will be modifying and fabricating a check socket for him to fit tomorrow and then we will do one last lamination for practice (cue the TEARS).

That is all the news from wonderful Tampa, Florida for now! Enjoy any cooler weather coming your way, stay warm and we will chat next week!!

Only 23 more days until…….SANTAAAAAA!!!!!! I KNOW HIM!!


Warmest regards,

Gingerbreadfran (my seasonal name)


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Bryce Dahl – IIOP student, International Clinical Rotation (Quito, Ecuador) 11/17/2020

Thanksgiving in Quito

Nov 27th, 2020

It’s probably not too shocking to hear that Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday celebrated in South America but some things you just have to keep constant. Dave and I took off from the clinic yesterday to prepare Thanksgiving at his house with his family and our close friends. A few pounds of camotés (sweet potatoes) from the market and my family’s sweet potato soufflé was now here in Quito.

We have a lot to be thankful for not just in spirit of the holiday. Despite the misfortune that 2020 has brought, I certainly am only grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had this year. Not to mention working so closely with prosthetic users each day really will make you thankful for 4 healthy limbs.

Dave and I have been hard at work doing it all from laminating adjustable carbon fiber sockets, to teaching patients how to run with a prosthetic running blade. It’s also cool to see Dave’s confidence in me rise enough to allow me to take over on modifications (peep the stars & stripes socket) and leg assembly/alignments.

This week will be week number 12 I’ve been in Quito and I only want it to slow down; however, I’m looking forward to getting back to my family and friends for the remaining holidays and then to IIOP in Tampa to finish up my Master’s. Week 12 let’s get it.




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Francesca Cicchetti – IIOP Student Blog – November 13, 2020

Good morning everyone!


Happy November!! To start this blog off, let’s start with a little joke. “What does Thanksgiving have in common with Halloween?”


Hahahaha. I thought that was a perfect little way to start. Anyway, let’s see…I hope everyone is doing well and that you all have had a good start to the month. We have been busy here over at IIOP.

Our lovely patient models, David, Dave, and Taylor came in and helped us out with our ischial containment sockets! We casted them, fabricated check sockets (fit and adjusted those), and finally got to laminate their definitive sockets! It was a pretty busy week and we all were exhausted, but it was well worth it! For our definitive socket fittings, our good pals from Blatchford, David, Mike, and Steve, came in and showed us a few of their amazing knees and feet! On Thursday, we were able to fit our patient models with the Linx system and Orion 3 knee with the Echelon hydraulic ankle! It was amazing because we were able to gain some valuable insight on how to properly bench align and calibrate their products! On Friday, our Blatchford pals and patient models came back and we got to have some more fun. We fit our definitive sockets with Blatchford’s KXO6 (polycentric) knee and their Mercury hydraulic (single axis) knee. My class and I really appreciated Blatchford for taking the time to come teach and help us out for a couple of days!! We learned so much and had a great time.

Finishing up my updates, we had our patient models return to help us this past week with our CAD-CAM ischial containment sockets. We used our VX Element scanner to capture the shape of the patient’s residual limb. Their scans were then synced into the Omega WillowWood software where we were able to modify their scans. Next, we uploaded the modified scans to our Provel C7 carver and created a positive foam model which we used to pull our plastic to create their check socket. We used this method in place of casting our patients with plaster…just another tool we get to put in our growing toolbox!! These scans can be used in the future to create other devices such as cranial helmets, scoliosis braces, and various sockets!! We will be fitting our patients on Monday before concluding our transfemoral class.

That is all for now! Have a wonderful rest of your week and we will chat soon.


Signing off,

Fran Cicchetti

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