CLINICAL TEAM

Each member of the Handspring Clinical Team has been carefully selected for their specific talents, experience and knowledge about the unique challenges of providing optimum patient care for upper limb prosthetic patients. This distinctive team of medical professionals are all dedicated to utilizing the Handspring Patient Care Process to create ultimate success in the daily lives of each Handspring client.

Tom Passero, CPFounder & Clinical Advisor

Injuries from a motor vehicle accident while a student at The Ohio State University resulted in Tom becoming a below knee amputee in 1974. His experiences during this period shaped not only his career choice as a prosthetist, but also the philosophy of care that has become the standard at the company he eventually founded.

Following a period of rehabilitation, Tom attended and graduated from Northwestern University’s Prosthetic and Orthotic Center, affiliated with Northwestern University Medical School and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He completed his residency at Helen Hayes Hospital’s Center for Rehabilitation Technology, and was the senior staff prosthetist when he left Helen Hayes Hospital in 1989.

By this time, Tom was feeling a growing desire to engage patients in a more intimate, private-practice setting. As a result, he founded Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates in Middletown, NY in November of that year. Since its beginnings on Ballard Road, the company has been anchored in Middletown, in the heart of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley. As a response to an expanding regional population, as well as increasing numbers of regional hospitals, physicians and therapists adding Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates (POA) to their rehabilitation resource teams, POA opened additional clinics in Kingston, NY; Poughkeepsie, NY; New York, NY; and Mahwah, NJ.

Over the years, Tom has continued to refine his professional expertise with an emphasis on experience with leading edge prosthetic technologies, such as microprocessor controlled knees and "bionic" hands and fingers for persons with unique upper limb prosthetic needs. Having spent 3 years as Director of Clinical Operations and Communications for the UK based company Touch Bionics, a world leader in upper limb prosthetic technology development, he now is applying the unique experience he gained as part of the development team of the ProDigits/iLimb Digits system to clients in the US and elsewhere in the world.

In addition to his primary clinical focus on upper limb amputee care, Tom divides his time between the management of POA and speaking on the topic of upper limb prostheses to surgeons, physiatrists, occupational and physical/hand therapists as well as case managers and payers involved in their care. His work has been published in The Atlas of Amputations and Limb Deficiencies, Surgical, Prosthetic, and Rehabilitation Principles, Third Edition, published by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Oct. 2004. Tom also provides expert witness testimony and life care plans for organizations in the US and elsewhere in the world representing upper limb amputees.

Laura Katzenberger, CP, LPDirector of Clinical Services

As Laura grew up in White Lake, NY, it became obvious that she was a youngster with diverse interests and a unique skill set. While Laura was an active child who participated in soccer, water skiing, and cross country skiing from an early age, she also enjoyed developing her fine art talents of painting, sculpting and drawing. As she progressed to high school, she found that many of the skills that she used to be a good artist also helped her to be proficient in math and science. While Laura knew that she wanted a career that would allow her to help people, she also wanted to leverage her unique combination of art and science skills. She learned about the field of Biomedical Engineering and off she went to the University of Rochester.

While in her second year of college, Laura was introduced to the field of prosthetics by her sister, a physical therapist. Laura was drawn to prosthetics because it allowed her to use both her art and science backgrounds to design prosthetic systems that incorporate the latest in technological advances. Laura then began shadowing a local prosthetist and targeted her engineering projects toward her prosthetic interests. Not wanting to entirely give into the engineering side of her personality, Laura spent a year in Florence, Italy at the Lorenzo de Medici School honing her art skills.

After returning from Italy, Laura graduated with her biomedical engineering degree and immediately headed to Northwestern University where she graduated with her prosthetics certification. She joined Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates in 2005 and began caring for patients immediately. Laura’s proficiencies with biomechanical topics led her to focus her efforts more on patients needing help with upper limb prosthetics. She soon developed proficiency on a wide range of upper limb prosthetic components and also began to see the need for a more integrated rehab approach with these patients.

In 2009, Laura began working with Touch Bionics, the developer of the world’s first multi-articulating hand and partial hand solution. Laura’s background was a natural fit with Touch Bionics and she soon became the Clinical Operations Director. In this role, she managed the other Touch Bionics’ clinicians, provided support to clinicians using the Touch Bionics’ products throughout North America, and attended training and events in Canada, China, Scotland and South Korea. Laura also helped to develop a unique clinical approach for partial hand prosthetic patients through which the prosthetist, the occupational therapist and the technicians worked very closely to create not only the best device possible but also a highly customized training program for each individual patient.

Laura is an important part of the Handspring team. She works with patients primarily in the New York City and Middletown, NY clinics while also helping to educate therapists, physicians and case managers about the impact that successfully created upper limb prosthetics can have on the lives of patients. Laura continues to live in the Catskill Mountain region in New York where in her free time she is refining her skills on land and water through painting, hiking, biking, waterskiing and wakeboarding.

Chris Baschuk, MPO, CPO, LP, FAAOPLead Clinician - Salt Lake City & Denver

Chris developed an interest in how things work from an early age. This curiosity has driven him to a very interesting career that combines the real-world with a unique application of theory. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Utah, where he first became exposed to the profession of prosthetics and orthotics. His undergraduate research was in osseointegration for attaching above knee prostheses to the body via a bone anchor. This earned him the honor of being named an Undergraduate Research Scholar. After graduating, Chris became very involved with healthcare research while he worked at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine as a clinical study coordinator for several different cardiology studies related to atrial fibrillation.

As an Eagle Scout and later in life as a missionary in the favelas of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Chris developed a strong desire to compassionately serve and help others. His passions for helping people live to the fullest of their potential as well as tinkering and building things made the profession of prosthetics and orthotics an ideal fit for him. In 2011 he enrolled at the University of Texas Southwestern School of Health Professions Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics program. While a masters candidate he received several national scholarships, fellowships and awards. Upon successful completion of his masters degree, Chris completed his residencies in both prosthetics and orthotics at an independent practice in Idaho where he honed his skills and gathered more training that was focused on upper limb prosthetic patient care. Chris’ interest in upper limb prosthetic patient care has grown rapidly. His interest has led to his gaining additional skills in providing patients with a variety of different high tech prosthetic options. Chris is always working on a project to push the envelope and provide better patient outcomes through adaptations of new technologies and materials science. This has led him to be able to provide our Handspring patients with unique solutions incorporating custom silicone sockets, liners and electronics not found anywhere else.

Chris is very involved in the profession of prosthetics and orthotics at a national level as a member of several committees of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists and as the Treasurer for the Upper Limb Prosthetics Society. Outside of work, Chris enjoys spending time with his wife and two little girls in the outdoors; hiking, biking, rock climbing and camping.

Debi Latour, M.Ed., OTR/LClinical Therapy Consultant

Debi Latour has been an innovator from her earliest years. Debi wore her first prosthesis at the age of 14 months and then spent the years that followed working with the clinical team at Shriners Hospitals to improve upon their prosthetic designs. As a teen in high school, Debi was extremely active and never let her prosthesis get in her way. Not only was she involved in her high school’s yearbook committee and student government, Debi also was active on the girls’ soccer and gymnastics teams. It was during her high school years that Debi learned about the ‘helping professions’ and she soon became attracted to the idea of working in occupational therapy.

When it came time to decide upon her next step, Debi decided that a career as an occupational therapist was just what she needed. Not only could she combine her interest in art with her love of science, but she felt like her use of a prosthesis could really provide a unique perspective to her future patients. So, Debi enrolled at the Tufts University/Boston School of Occupational Therapy and then eventually received her Master’s in the Advanced Practice of Occupational Therapy from Springfield College.

Debi’s career in occupational therapy has taken her around the world to present on topics related to successful patient care for upper limb prosthetic patients. She has been a featured speaker at events throughout the US, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands. For the past thirteen years, she has worked with pediatric patients through the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, MA as well as serving as an adjunct professor at Springfield College since 2006.

Debi’s passion for helping people not only applies to her patients but also to all the people in her life. She enjoys spending a great deal of time with her immediate and far reaching family members. Debi has also spent a substantial amount of time working on her new Anchor Technology that provides a completely new way for patients who use body-powered, upper limb prosthesis to have a more solid suspension system. Whether it is her family, her friends or her Handspring patients, Debi Latour is dedicated to helping to improve their lives each and every day.

Dez Joseph, CPOUpper Limb Prosthetist

Moving from St. Croix to the Bronx with his family was certainly a major change in Dez’s childhood but it really was just an early indicator about how things in his world would often transform for the better. Living in New York City has been a key part of Dez’s development over the years from the way he played music in his youth as a member of a jazz ensemble, NY All City Concert Band, travels across North America performing with a Drum and Bugle Corp, to walking upon a street sign from the World Rehab Fund about opportunities to become an orthotic and prosthetic technician.

Dez quickly learned what a prosthetic and orthotic technician did and how that work really appealed to him personally. He got to work with his hands, he got to solve problems while making things, and most importantly, he got to help people. Dez quickly developed his skills working several years as a technician at Allied Orthopedics. The next step was achieving his credentials as an ABC Certified Prosthetic and Orthotic Technician. Dez then proceeded to make the next big change in his life by going back to school to become a prosthetist and orthotist. After attending undergraduate studies at York College, City University of New York, he then traveled out to Dominguez Hills, CA to participate in the prosthetic and orthotic program at California State University. Dez graduated in 2008 and became an ABC Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist. He then returned to provide prosthetic and orthotic care in New York City.

Since his graduation and certification, Dez has continued to grow his skills and experience to better care for his full range of both orthotic and prosthetic patients. He has become proficient in providing a full range of sophisticated technologies in orthotics and prosthetics including a variety of microprocessor knees and ankles, an assortment of different vacuum suspension options, and advanced orthotic bracing solutions. Over the past several years, Dez has specialized in helping a large number of upper limb prosthetic patients with a wide range of treatment options including myoelectric systems, partial hand solutions, and very unique socket technologies. In addition, Dez has worked in the past with Project Hope to help under privileged patients in Belize with their orthotic and prosthetic needs.

When he’s not helping to restore function with his patients in both New York City and Middletown, NY, Dez enjoys spending time with his children , traveling, restoring old furniture, and the occasional fishing adventure.

Erik Tompkins, CP, BOCOUpper Limb Prosthetist

Erik Tompkins was born and raised in the Hudson Valley, New York. He was an active child and participated in several sports such as wrestling, baseball, football and hockey. As he grew, an artistic side began to come out in him as well. Unknown to Erik at the time, his unique combination of athletic and art skills were preparing him for his future career. When a family friend, who had lost a limb in the Vietnam War, introduced him to the field of prosthetics, Erik immediately became interested.

After attending Ulster County Community College for business and electronics, Erik started to work as a technician for Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in 1992. However, just a few months into his new position, Erik knew that he wanted to grow further with his career and he began to pursue the process of becoming a Board of Certification Prosthetist. Using this path, Erik was able to utilize his strong technical skills while also expanding his scope of work into working directly with patients to provide prosthetic care.

As the orthotic and prosthetic industry continued to grow, so did Erik. In 1999, Erik took another step forward in his career when he became a Certified Prosthetist with the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. He has worked as a clinician at Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates ever since, except for a few years working for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Texas and Louisiana.

Erik continues to develop his clinical and technical expertise by attending practitioner seminars throughout the country. Over the past few years, Erik has focused his professional training on the latest developments in upper limb prosthetics including the Michelangelo™ Hand, the i-limb™ hand, and the Bebionic™ Hand. This expertise has led to Erik becoming an important member of the new team of clinicians at Handspring. Erik is also heavily involved with the local amputee support group that is affiliated with the Amputee Coalition.

In his time away from work, Erik works with several different amputee support groups in the Hudson Valley. He lives an active outdoor life with his family including time spent kayaking, hiking and swimming.

James Thomas Andrew, CP, FAAOPClinical Consultant

After becoming an above knee amputee himself, James Thomas Andrew went back to school at Utah State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree and then he went on to complete his post graduate studies by earning his degree in prosthetics at UCLA.

Upon completing his degree in prosthetics, Tom worked for several different prosthetic facilities before joining Motion Control as their in-house clinical expert. During his time with Motion Control, Tom traveled extensively throughout North America and Europe presenting advanced training seminars in the clinical utilization of the Utah Artificial Arm. In 1993, Tom founded Ability Prosthetic Systems in Salt Lake City to focus his clinical efforts on providing leading edge technologies for both upper limb and lower limb prosthetic patients.

Tom has been very involved with various professional organizations over the years including being a founding member and past president of the Upper Limb Prosthetic Society of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP). Beyond being awarded his fellowship by AAOP in 2001, Tom has also been published extensively in peer reviewed journals and textbooks.

Tom enjoys traveling with his wife Diane and continuing to be active outdoors.

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