About Prosthetics Advancement Lab
a-na-plas-to-lo-gy: The art and science of restoring a malformed or absent part of the human body through artificial means. An anaplastologist makes prosthetic devices. The art and science of the design and fabrication of lifelike restorative prostheses such as finger, hand, nose, face. -Medicinenet.com. 2012 o-cu-lar-is-try: The general field of ocular prosthetics, specifically all aspects of the custom fitting and fabrication of artificial eyes. -Dictionary of Terms for Ocularistry. 1994
Janet C Chao, BCO, CCA. Founder of PAL
Why PAL Began
Prosthetics Advancement Lab (PAL) was founded in 2014 by Janet Chao, an anaplastologist and ocularist based in Sacramento, out of the desire to help advance the small field of facial prosthetics. Over the past few decades, only a handful of university programs have taught facial prosthetics and that number is decreasing. Currently there is no formal institution for training ocularists. An individual must undergo five years of apprenticeship (10,000 hours) in order to qualify for a board exam in ocularistry. The number of Board Certified Ocularists in the world is in the hundreds, and fewer than fifty people carry the title of Certified Clinical Anaplastologist. These are highly trained individuals who have the skills to create a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing facial prosthesis.
While many talented individuals exist within these fields, it is extremely difficult for anaplastologists and ocularists to implement new ideas. Due to the relatively small population they serve, large entities with robust resources are rarely interested in making an investment to improve this field. Most anaplastologists and ocularists lack the support of an academic institution or a hospital and must rely on themselves for professional advancement.
Another problem occurs when the prosthetics clinics are financially driven. When the number of patients who enter the clinic directly correlates to the clinic's income, there is a desire for the clinician to focus his/her time on routinely seeing patients. Education, research, and making advancements are often placed on hold when there is no additional source of funding. Janet realized that in order to make these things a priority, additional time and effort must be spent in a separate environment. Thus PAL was founded.
At the time PAL was founded, Janet had been apprenticing with a Board Certified Ocularist for three and half years. In February 2016, Janet received board certification status through the National Examining Board of Ocularists. Janet also received the title of Certified Clinical Anaplastology in June 2016 and is one of fewer than forty certified clinical anaplastologists. She currently works at a prosthetic eye clinic in Las Vegas and she is dedicated to making improvements in this unique field.
Read about Research Challenges in Anaplastology.