Prosthetics Center strides forward

Sunday, September 30, 2007

HOUSTON, Texas - Gone are the days when the town blacksmith crafted rudimentary replacement limbs, said Rhonda Turner, a certified orthotist, prosthetist and founder of The Prosthetic Center, which was recently named one of Houston's fast-growing women-owned businesses.
"It's still a good ol' boys field, but it's changing," said Turner. "(Being women-owned) has allowed us to pursue a different kind of direction in certain things."
Nationally, there are approximately 5,000 board-certified orthotists and prosthetists, but only 12% are women, said Turner. The Prosthetic Center specializes in custom prosthetics, orthotics and post-mastectomy services, with prosthetics comprising nearly 70% of the company's business.
Turner harnesses high-tech computer imaging methods in 90% of her custom work. Scanners or digital photography create 3-D images of the patient that are then manipulated to design customized limbs or orthotics.
"It streamlines things and makes life easier for the patient," said Turner. "It's no fun to be inundated by plaster and machines."
The Prosthetics Center strives for the best possible product for each patient.
"We customize to the patient's needs and make it aesthetically pleasing to them so they will wear it," said Turner. "If you give them something old and clunky, they don't like wearing it. You have to involve the patient."
The Prosthetic Center has seven employees--six women--with two locations and a third opening later this fall. The Prosthetic Center's largest payer is Medicare--about 60%. Last year the company earned $2.8 million in revenues.
Turner said an aging population means increased business.
"I hate to use the baby boomer cliche, but many have diabetes and that tends to lead to strokes, high blood pressure and amputations, and that's where we come in," said Turner. "People are also more informed that these services are out there."