About Us

Southeastern Orthotics and Prosthetics provides a full and complete range of orthotic and prosthetic services, from pediatrics to adults to geriatrics. The friendly and helpful staff at Southeastern have many years of experience and a longstanding reputation for providing excellent care in the Chattanooga and Southeast Tennessee region.

In addition, SEOP mandates that practitioners attend company-sponsored education, which is provided on an ongoing basis by a wide variety of professionals, including, but not limited to:

  • Attendance at scientific symposia
  • On-site training by various manufacturers' educational reps
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Physicians and nurses

Southeastern's advanced professional education requirements cover a broad range of topics, from new fitting and fabrication techniques, to new patient care products and componentry, to new prosthetic and orthotic techniques to enhance our patient care to new technologies.

Our Story

Since its founding in 1964 by Tom Ainsworth, Southeastern Orthotics & Prosthetics, has provided high quality orthotics and prosthetics services to citizens of Southeast Tennessee.  In 1970, the company was purchased by Bob Burleson, under whose leadership Southeastern continued to grow significantly.

In 1999, Southeastern Orthotics and Prosthetics was purchased by John Gilbreath, CPO/LPO who had a long history with Southeastern Orthotics & Prosthetics beginning in 1975 as a technician. He expanded Southeastern Orthotics and Prosthetics to its second location in Cleveland Tennessee for the convenience of patients in the Cleveland and Bradley County region in 2000.

In December 2019, Southeastern was purchased by Aaron Sorensen, MBA,CPO/LPO who is also the owner of Restorative Health Services Prosthetics Orthotics (RHS) headquartered in Murfreesboro. RHS has nine offices throughout Middle Tennessee and is independently owned and operated by Aaron. Southeastern will remain privately owned and family centered under his leadership. Learn more about Restorative Health Services.

We are very pleased that John Gilbreath will be remaining with Southeastern and contributing his input and insight to the new ownership. His long-standing experience and expertise are invaluable, both clinically and as a leader in the Southeast TN region's health care community. John will continue to provide patients with the level of care, concern and excellence that he is known and recognized for.

Aaron Sorensen, Owner/President, BS, MBA, CPO, LPO

Aaron SorensenAaron has devoted himself to excelling in prosthetic and orthotic care since 1989. After spending many years working in the field while earning his BS in orthotics and prosthetics at Florida International University, and his MBA at Middle Tennessee State University, then working full time as a practitioner, Aaron purchased Dillard Prosthetics and Orthotics in 2001, and incorporated the newly acquired practice as Restorative Health Services. He expanded the practice to cover 9 locations in Middle Tennessee.

In December of 2019, Aaron purchased Southeastern Orthotics and Prosthetics (SEOP) from the previous owner, John Gilbreath, CPO. SEOP has provided top notch, personalized care to orthotics and prosthetics patients in Chattanooga and the surrounding areas since 1964. It has been continuously owned and operated as an independent facility from the beginning, and will remain family owned an operated under the new owner.

Aaron has been published in the prestigious Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics and has served as an ABC examiner and orthotic review committee member. He was also a member of the AAOP state Licensure committee in 2006.

He is a well-known and respected subject matter expert and consultant in the health care community. He regularly speaks at regional educational conferences, consults on an ongoing basis with national manufacturers such as Freedom Innovations. He is a counsel member of GLG and frequently provides insights to other health care industry leaders.

When not seeing patients and running the practice, Aaron and his wife, a professor at MTSU, stay busy keeping up with their twin daughters and the family’s show dogs.

Lauren Vaughn, Vice President of Operations, BS

Lauren VaughnBorn and raised in Middle Tennessee, Lauren is characterized by management and staff alike as the “glue” that holds Restorative Health Services, and with the acquisition of Southeastern Orthotics and Prosthetics, SEOP together.

She began her career with RHS in 2008 with the responsibilities of executive assistant to the president and various day-to-day bookkeeping duties. Today, Lauren’s influence can be seen in every aspect of the administrative management of RHS and SEOP. Her roles include human resources, office staff training and education, troubleshooting and resolution of issues related to every facet of the practices with the exception of clinical areas. She is responsible for handling all aspects of the company’s VA contract and ensures that our veterans receive the fastest turnarounds possible.

Lauren also is in charge of the multiple and ongoing accreditation duties required to certify and attest to the quality standards of the practice, including insurance and government entities, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Lauren handles the companies’ long term financial planning and execution in coordination with Aaron. She is also the final decision maker in his absence.

Her customer service philosophy is to keep patients happy and to make on time appointments as the norm, thus minimizing wait times. She particularly values Aaron’s trust and confidence in her abilities to implement continuous improvements in administering RHS and SEOP.

Lauren and her husband are the proud parents of a son and daughter, which keep them busy in their “free time.”

Karstan Merrell, Regional Manager, CO/L

Karstan Merrell Karstan Merrell manages SEOP’s Chattanooga and Cleveland clinics as well as providing orthotic patient care. While he is experienced and has extensive expertise in upper, lower and spinal orthotics for all ages, he has a special passion for treating pediatric patients with orthopedic conditions that limit mobility such as club foot and other foot and ankle deformities.

Merrell joined the Practice in April, 2020. He is originally from Utah, and has been practicing in East Tennessee since he was recruited by a private O&P company in 2004. He previously practiced at Fillauer as a certified orthotist and was later promoted to Clinical Practice Manager. Karstan served on the TSOP Board of Directors from 2011 to 2019 being elected as the Secretary, Treasure, Vice President and President. While serving on the board, Karstan along with a lobbyist and other board members was instrumental in successfully obtaining a legislative rule change that allowed ABC certified Assistant to be recognized and licensed in the state of Tennessee.

Karstan attended the University of Texas San Antonio before returning to Utah for his clinical residency at Fitwell Orthotics and Prosthetics where he gained extensive experience in spine trauma at the University of Utah hospital and plagiocephaly at Primary Children’s Hospital.

When he is not at work, he can be found golfing, boating or cooking.

Eric Kottner, Regional Business Development Director, USAF Veteran, Amputee Peer Counselor

Eric KottnerEric Kottner, Regional Director of Business Development is in charge of relationship building with fellow health care professionals in East Tennessee, covering Chattanooga, Cleveland and the surrounding areas. Eric has worked in P&O sales and marketing for over 20 years, from Pennsylvania, to Florida to Texas.

An amputee himself, Eric is an Amputee Peer Counselor of more than twenty years. He is trained by the Amputee Coalition of America and estimates that he has had the honor of counseling upwards of 1200 amputees--and counting. Eric has had the privilege of starting or co-founding three Amputee Support Groups in Ft. Worth, TX, Orlando, FL and Pittsburgh, PA.

In addition, he stared the Union Amputee/Celebrity Golf Tournament benefiting The Woodlands Foundation and the Diabetes Foundation in Pittsburgh. The Woodlands gives disabled children age 18 and under a place to go and safely enjoy the outdoors.

Eric is passionate about working with fellow amputees and will be available to our patients and their families to provide support, when needed.

In his free time, Eric plays golf, enjoys working out and spending time with his Alaskan Malamute dog, Yuli.