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Prosthetics Organization Seeking Change To State Regulation

Aaron Westbrook, founder of Form 5 Prosthetics, discusses regulations keeping him from operating without a license.
Andy Chow
Aaron Westbrook, founder of Form 5 Prosthetics, discusses regulations keeping him from operating without a license.

A non-profit group is currently building prosthetic arms and hands without a license, saying a state rule is hindering them from providing cheaper, effective devices to people who have a limb difference. 

Aaron Westbrook was born with a limb difference, his forearm stops just below his elbow. He started his organization as a teenager, making prosthetics using recycled material and a 3-D printer. 

But a prosthetic manufacturing license requires about six years of schooling and training, so Westbrook is operating without a license.

He says those rules are tailored to larger operations, where his organization is able to scale down and customize their products.

“Individuals come to us with some of the most creative ideas for like you know a device that holds a fishing rod so they can reel with the hand they do have,” says Westbrook.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted is supporting a budget amendment to change the licensing rule, so Westbrook can operate legally in Ohio.

“Laws and regulations need to keep people safe and healthy, but we can’t have our regulations ever standing in the way of innovation,” says Husted. “We need to knock down barriers that prevent people from inventing, starting businesses, and growing our economy in Ohio and position our state as the most innovative, creative state in the Midwest.”

In order for a prosthetics maker to get a license in Ohio they must apply with the Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers Board. According to Husted’s office, a license is granted after the applicant obtains a bachelor’s degree, completes a prosthetics residency program, works a minimum of eight months under the supervision of a licensed prosthetist, successfully completes an examination, and pays a fee.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.