Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Brittany Stresing, Owner, LimBonics

Published in the May 2015 Durham Magazine

By Whitney L.J. Howell

At 14, Brittany Stresing received news that both changed her life and planned her future. She was diagnosed with scoliosis and spina bifida, and she learned one leg was shorter than the other. As a result, she was fitted with orthotic braces.

The experience solidified her belief that patient care should be personal and launched her down a path to improve the healthcare process for others.

“I was handed this profession through dealing with surgery and orthotic intervention with braces,” said Stresing, 28. “I received bad care followed by good care. I realized it’s better to treat people as individuals rather than numbers.”

Today, she’s a certified prosthetist and orthotist, as well as the owner of LimBionics, a prosthetic/orthotic company in Durham. She is secretary for the N.C. Orthotics and Prosthetics Trade Association, and she is also president-elect of the N.C. Chapter of the Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists – the first woman to hold this position. In addition, she was the first woman spotlighted for the Ossur Women’s Leadership Initiative, an organization helping promote women in leadership roles.

Her goal, she said, is to maintain open communication with patients and give them a sense of security around their treatment and therapy. She provides those services in rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, or doctor’s offices. Patients also come to her from across the state.

“Whenever someone works with us, they’re always going to the same person who knows them and what they’re going through,” she said. “We take the time to find a therapy that will work with their wants and lifestyle – not just a textbook approach.”

Reaching this point wasn’t always easy, though. She was accepted to a 15-person prosthetics program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and completed a rigorous residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But, she was still one of few women in a heavily male-dominated field.

She fought against the stereotype that female prosthetists were more suited for a practice’s administrative work than building prosthetics or orthotics. Now, she consistently designs and builds some of the most technologically-advanced patient care devices available, including prosthetics that replace missing body parts and braces that strengthen feet, ankles, knees, or hips.

Every step, she said, is devoted to working with the patient to identify their needs and to design a treatment plan all parties – patients, physicians, and Stresing’s colleagues – can agree upon.

“With every patient, we evaluate how they walk, how the use their arms, or whatever body part is affected,” she said. “We work to reduce their pain and make that body part functional again.”

To read the profile at its original location: http://issuu.com/shannonmedia/docs/binderdmmay/79?e=13657385/12589504 pg. 56

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Profiles | , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Brenda Armstrong, Dean of Admissions, Duke University School of Medicine

Published in the May 2015 Durham Magazine

By Whitney L.J. Howell

As a student in a segregated Rocky Mount, N.C., high school, Brenda Armstrong, M.D., knew she wanted to be a scientist of some sort. But, she didn’t know far her determination and the support of her family and friends would take her.

But, now, Armstrong points to events and people in her life that positioned her to use her gifts to help others.

“My life, and whatever roles I’ve been fortunate enough to find, has been about giving back,” she said. “I have wonderful gifts that no dollar amount could bring.”

Today, Armstrong, 66, has been the Duke University School of Medicine Dean of Admissions for nearly 20 years. (She’s also an associated dean for medical education, a professor of pediatrics, and a pediatric cardiologist for children, adolescents, and adults with congenital heart disease — a woman who wears many hats!) She’s changed the School’s demographic make-up to better reflect the Durham community, more than doubling the number of black applicants in her first few years and continuing to enhance diversity.

It’s an accomplishment close to her heart. While at St. Louis University School of Medicine, Armstrong was the only black woman student for three out of her four years of training. She recruited the second black woman who joined her for her final year.

Her road to steering medical school admissions was a winding one, though. It was a teaching job right out of Duke undergraduate that revealed Armstrong’s future career.

For four years, she taught science and math to the same students as they progressed through school. With her, the students rose from “C” and “D” achievers to the honor roll. That experience prompted her to pursue medical school so she could heal and teach others about their well-being.

She even had the opportunity to hone her teaching skills in medical school – this time with a support network. The custodial staff frequently asked her about her work as she studied late at night.

“When I studied by myself, the folks cleaning up would ask me what I was doing,” she said. “It was great to have someone who looked like me care about my work. They were my study aids, and they knew it.”

Because the community bolstered her, she works to give back. For more than 30 years, she’s served as the physician for the Durham Striders, a local youth track association.

“Being of the community and in the community makes me a better person,” she said. “The community has kept me grounded, has given me values, and has allowed me to use whatever gifts I have to make my community better.”

To read the profile at its original location: http://issuu.com/shannonmedia/docs/binderdmmay?e=13657385/12589504 pg. 38

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Profiles | , | Leave a comment


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