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About Our Dedicated Burn Therapists

This site was developed as a result of the untimely death of a dear friend and dedicated burn therapist - Barbara Knothe, OTR/L, MOT, CHT. Barb died suddenly as a result of a fatal heart attack on March 5th 2001 (please see In Memoriam from the Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation article for additional details on Barb's accomplishments). Barb had left behind a legacy of colleagues, students, burn survivors, family and friends. She had spent the better part of 20 years working as a burn therapist at both St. Agnes Burn Center in Philadelphia, PA and Temple Burn Center in Philadelphia, PA. She was an active member of the American Burn Association (ABA) as well as the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT), American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA). She was a skilled clinician, artisan, and teacher and dedicated herself to the perfection of burn care and rehabilitation for all of her patients and students. Barbar Knothe Image 1 Barb had just begun to develop from a hard-nosed, treating therapist into a clinical researcher and educator both in the U.S. and abroad when her untimely death struck. She left behind numerous burn articles, research projects and clinical treatment ideas unfinished. More importantly, she left the burn community with a catastrophic void to fill. I, myself, was nothing more than a fledgling therapist and now was expected to fill the shoes of this giant in the burn community. I knew right away that I needed all the help I could get to ensure that I was providing the best treatment and outcomes for my patients - just as Barb had done for her entire career.

I went that same year with an relatively simple idea to the American Burn Association to find a way to memorialize Barb among her peers within the OT/PT Special Interest Group. I suggested my initial idea to some of Barb's closest peers and colleagues which included Robin Zappin, Reg Richard, Michael Serghiou, Mary Jo Baryza, Sandy Fletchall, Merilyn Moore, Hope Hunter, Beth Franzen, Cindy Hayes-Lundy, Linda Ware and Linda Zellerbach. With the help of these dedicated individuals and the addition of some relatively newer members to the burn community including Ted Chapman, Lisa Forbes-Duchart and most notably myself, we formed the Barb Knothe Burn Therapist Achievement Award Committee. My initial idea was transformed into a broader concept to foster the clinical development of burn therapists and to promote research and collaboration among all therapists nationwide. That following year, in 2002, the first recipient of the Award was conferred. Each year since, the Committee has selected a therapist who has made significant contributions to the burn community and, like Barb, has dedicated themselves to continued research and rehabilitation of burn survivors.

Since 2002, the Committee members have met each year at the ABA Annual Meeting to discuss development of the Award and to plan for (either) the following year's Award and activities or subsequent years' Awards - selflessly devoting their time and energy in true therapist fashion, without hesitation and with full, enthusiastic support. Initially, we worked on ideas to further strengthen the knowledge of burn therapists through a web site but were in need of financial and technical support to get this website operating at the next level.

Barbara Knothe Image 2In 2006, with the generous corporate and technical support of Mark E. Dillon, President of Bio Med Sciences Inc., we were able to expand the Award and develop this internet based web site. Mark, who also was a good friend of Barb's, has helped us to exponentially to expand the Award and the networking, via this website, to further our access and networking to all burn therapists nationwide and eventually in the world. In 2008, this Award was included as part of the American Burn Association's Awards and Presidential Address Ceremony and subsequently will be included as part of this most prestigious awards ceremony every year - further elevating the recognition and scope of this Award. Although this Committee and Award are still in the infantile stages, we believe that the potential for increased development and research abounds with this web site and will help to foster the advancement of clinically driven and therapist driven burn research in the years to come.

I can only speak from my own personal experience but I have learned more than I could have ever imagined through my relationships with the members of this Committee as well as the ABA. If not for their selfless giving as well as their inspiration, support, knowledge and dedication to develop and nurture this idea, this platform for therapist education and development would never have been achieved.

I hope that you will take full advantage of this web site and contribute to the resource of burn knowledge that will benefit not only your peers but the many patients and families that we all serve. This site is a tribute to all of the amazing and life-changing accomplishments that each of you bring to the burn survivors that you treat everyday and will serve as an inspiration and foundation for new burn clinicians everywhere.

Jonathan Niszczak, MS, OTR/L