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Orthotic Researchers

The Next Generation of Orthotic Researchers

Vanessa Christner  Masters Candidate, Kinesiology

Vanessa Christner
Masters Candidate, Kinesiology


In early 2017 Vanessa Christner led the implementation of outcome measure collection and evaluation at Boundless Biomechanical Bracing. This work built upon earlier research by Anne Whitney and Christine Tschirhart which suggested what measurement tools (outcome measures) were best suited for the assessment of orthotic treatments.

I was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario. I completed my Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology & Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2016. Currently, I am a Masters of Human Kinetics student at the University of Windsor and completing an internship at Boundless.

Boundless provides a unique opportunity

For students like Jessie to explore the specialized field of orthotics. Boundless Biomechanical Bracing Inc. continues to explore the potential of 3D printing in the medical field of orthotics through the efforts of biomedical engineering students like Jessie

Research project assessing changes resulting from bracing

At Boundless I will complete a research project assessing changes resulting from bracing. The only real evidence that a patient’s brace is working for them is through anecdotes or differences clinicians can see. We’re trying to quantify this improvement through standardized performance tests and questionnaires. My role involves data collection, statistical analysis, and preparing a manuscript for publication in Prosthetics and Orthotics International.

The majority of my time at Boundless has been spent collecting outcome measures with patients. I am collecting two types of outcome measures this summer:

  1. Performance measures

  2. Self-reports

The performance measures include tests of walking ability and balance, functional strength, and transitional movements like getting up from a chair. Each test is done without the brace and with the brace. The self-reports involve a number of questionnaires designed to assess the patient’s quality of life and how the brace is altering their life. 

Use of outcome measures

My work investigating the use of outcome measures with orthotic devices is novel. Outcome measures are increasingly being used to track a patient’s progress in other healthcare fields such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. It is my hope that my work will drive the field of prosthetics and orthotics toward evidence-based practice and increase accountability for companies involved in government funded assistive device programs.

I have enjoyed interacting with the patients and witnessing first hand how Boundless braces can change their lives. This is a unique experience that has opened my eyes to the use of biomechanics in the management of traumatic and chronic conditions. This has also been a great opportunity to develop my research skills in the workplace. After I finish my internship I plan to spend two semesters finishing the required coursework for my Masters degree and looking for a job within the field of ergonomics.


Following a review of current research Malena Rapaport (B.Kin) featured in Alignment Magazine concludes "it was apparent that the literature focused primarily on OM (outcome measures) for prosthetic users, with little attention give to orthotic OM (outcome measures)"

Did you know that in the 2014 Practice Analysis Certified Orthotists indicated that collecting outcome measures is one of the greatest challenges they will face in the near future? This is why research like Vanessa's is so important to everyone in our field of practice.