The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists is dedicated to promoting professionalism and advancing the standards of patient care through education, literature, research, advocacy, and collaboration.

The Formative Years

The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy) was founded in November 1970 to expand the scientific and educational attainments of professional practitioners in the disciplines of orthotics and prosthetics. The leadership of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA), a trade association serving the interests of orthotic and prosthetic facilities, manufacturers, and suppliers, and the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC), the sole U.S. credentialing agency at that time, agreed that there was a need for an organization focused on continuing education.

According to its bylaws, the Academy is dedicated to: (1) attainment of the highest standards of technical competence and ethical conduct by its members; (2) the professional recognition of qualified practitioners; (3) the assurances that practitioners who apply for or are admitted to membership maintain high standards of professional conduct; and (4) collaboration with other educational, research, and related organizations in developing technical and ethical standards for orthotics and prosthetics. In order to fulfill these objectives, Active, voting, membership in the Academy is restricted to individuals who have been certified in orthotics or prosthetics by and who remain in good standing with ABC. Over the years, other membership categories have been added to ensure that every professional in the O&P field has access to the latest research and the best continuing education, although these members are non-voting.

Following the first three years of organizational and structural development, in 1974 the Academy held its first Annual Membership Meeting with two days of scientific presentations on concepts in the practice of orthotics and prosthetics. As the Academy further identified its role and assessed the educational needs of orthotic and prosthetic practitioners, the content and professional quality of its Annual Meeting grew.

In 1978, the Academy assumed the responsibility for publishing the Newsletter of Amputee Clinics, formerly a publication of the National Academy of Sciences subcommittee on prosthetics and research development. The Academy renamed the newsletter Prosthetics and Orthotics Clinics, and the quarterly publication focused on clinical, multi-disciplinary approaches to particular orthotic and prosthetic topics. In 1980, the eight-page newsletter became a professional journal titled Clinical Prosthetics & Orthotics and began attracting an increasing number of technical and clinical manuscripts from O&P practitioners.

During the late 1970s, the Academy also became more actively involved in research through its Clinical Research and Development Committee. This led to the successful submission of its first research proposal to the Veterans Administration Prosthetic Center (VAPC). VAPC awarded funds for the purpose of evaluating new prosthetic skin materials for external prostheses, a process that involved the efforts and input of numerous Academy member practitioners.

Professional Development and Recognition Flourish

As the early 1980s got underway, the Academy continued to pursue the recognition of the profession and the professional development of its members. It began formalizing professional liaisons with other medical and allied healthcare organizations such as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Along with these partnerships, in 1983, the Academy successfully gained recognition by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for ABC-certified prosthetists and orthotists.

This milestone led to even higher aspirations for professional development, as a group of former Academy presidents founded the organization's College Fund. The goal of the College Fund was the eventual development of a doctoral degree program in orthotics and prosthetics. Although controversial at the time, the fund raised well over $100,000 in its first three years. Donations primarily came from within the profession, including many from Academy member practitioners with a strong commitment to higher education.

In 1984, to further its educational aspirations, the Academy developed and published educational information for consumers. The Academy published its first patient-oriented Care & Use Guide in 1986 on plastic ankle/foot orthoses. This effort was spearheaded by the College Fund, which awarded a $1,000 scholarship to a second-year orthotic or prosthetic student who produced the best manuscript on a consumer-related subject. The success of this publication led to a second edition of the guide, Care & Use Guide for the Below-Knee Amputee.

Also in 1984, the Academy formalized its support of the existing orthotic and prosthetic education programs by joining with AOPA to fund biannual meetings of the Committee on Orthotic/Prosthetic Education (COPE) and the University Council of Orthotic/Prosthetic Educators (UCOPE), an effort to ensure greater continuity of subject matter taught to entry-level students and to better address the needs and concerns of education programs. This led to a formal merger of COPE and UCOPE into one organization, the National Association of Prosthetic-Orthotic Educators (NAPOE), which represented all of the orthotic and prosthetic programs recognized at that time by the Education Accreditation Commission (EAC).

Taking a more formal approach to professional development and continuing education, the Academy held its first national Continuing Education Conference (CEC) in Chicago in 1984. The first CEC focused on current clinical concepts in upper-limb prosthetics and was held in Thorn Hall on the campus of Northwestern University Medical School.

Thorn Hall had been the site of the first nationally-organized meeting on orthotic and prosthetic technology, where the Department of Defense brought together officials from federal and private organizations to address the needs of disabled veterans. This meeting led to the first course on above-knee prosthetics at the University of California at Los Angeles. The Academy's 1984 CEC was the last formal meeting on prosthetics held at Thorn Hall, which was later demolished to make way for expansion of the university.

Starting in 1985, the Academy sponsored a series of five CECs annually. The CECs were hosted in different geographical regions to offer continuing education to as many practitioners as possible. They were often co-sponsored by the Academy's regional and state chapters.

Along with initiating its CEC Program in 1984, the Academy expanded the content of its Annual Membership Meeting to include a greater number of scientific presentations and exhibits by manufacturers and suppliers of O&P components and materials. The Academy further enhanced its annual membership event by calling it the Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium, a name which better recognized the professional content and significance of the meeting.

Underscoring the Academy's commitment to continuing education, in 1985, the board of directors unanimously adopted a program for enhancing professional and ethical competence through mandatory continuing education (MCE). The Academy bylaws were changed to add MCE as a prerequisite for Active membership in the Academy. In part due to the Academy's efforts toward continuing education and competency, in 1988, ABC adopted the same MCE requirements for all newly-certified practitioners. Like members of the Academy, all ABC-certified practitioners were required to earn a minimum of 75 continuing education units (CEUs) every five years to maintain their certification.

That same year, in order to enhance and broaden the sphere of knowledge on orthotics and prosthetics, the Academy's journal, Clinical Prosthetics & Orthotics, was merged with AOPA's Orthotics & Prosthetics Journal to become the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics (JPO). Charles H. Pritham, CPO, was appointed editor-in-chief. Although the combined publications remained quarterly, the new journal grew to 64 pages, placed more emphasis on research-based articles, and instituted a comprehensive peer-review process for all manuscripts.

In 1989, the Academy joined forces with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to co-sponsor a consensus conference on the emerging technology of computer-aided design and computer-assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM). This conference brought together an international delegation of researchers and practitioners involved in this advanced area of technology to better assess and determine the future of the delivery of orthotic and prosthetic healthcare services.

Also in 1989, in acknowledgment of developing technology's effects on the educational needs of the profession, the Academy took on the task of establishing new academic and clinical "essentials" for students enrolled in O&P schools. This effort led to a major restructuring of the O&P education accreditation process and spurred the creation of the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) as the primary accreditation organization for O&P educational and residency programs. The Academy's involvement contributed to the development of these education essentials and, eventually, the official recognition of orthotics and prosthetics as an allied health care profession by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Breaking New Ground

The Academy's focus, however, did not remain internal. It began to embrace the consumers of orthotic and prosthetic services by inviting their participation and attendance at the 12th Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium in 1986. This gave consumers the opportunity to enhance their knowledge on emerging technologies and interact with practitioners in a non-healthcare setting. Prosthetic consumers took advantage of this opportunity, and it served as a catalyst for the foundation of the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) in 1989. Now called simply the Amputee Coalition, the group has become a recognized voice on legislative and research issues affecting the quality of life and care of prosthetic consumers.

As the new decade dawned, the Academy branched into activities with a distinctly international flair. In 1990, nine Academy members journeyed to the former Soviet Union to give presentations during a week-long O&P conference in Moscow. The Academy became a sponsoring member of the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in 1990, leading to the first appointment of an orthotic and prosthetic practitioner to the CARF Board of Trustees. This commitment to high-quality care for persons with disabilities further established the Academy as the premier professional organization dealing with quality assurance and goal-oriented outcome rehabilitation healthcare issues at the national level. The Academy further committed itself to consumers by appointing the first consumer liaison" to the board of directors in 1991.

In 1992, the Academy joined ABC and AOPA to host the World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) in Chicago. The event attracted practitioners from around the globe.

That year, with the profession becoming more specialized both clinically and technologically, the need to share information in certain areas of practice emerged. This led to the development of professional membership societies, which provided a forum for practitioners interested in specific areas of orthotic and prosthetic education and research. The Academy created five specialized societies in the areas of spinal orthotics, lower limb orthotics, upper limb prosthetics, lower limb prosthetics, and computer aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM).

Also in 1992, to honor colleagues who have made outstanding contributions to the profession, the Academy introduced professional recognition awards for Educator of the Year and Clinician of the Year, along with awards for Advancements in Research and Creativity. 1992 also led to the Academy's involvement in the first Orthotics and Prosthetics Research Consensus Conference sponsored by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This was a direct result of increased federal funding for orthotic and prosthetic research, which spawned a renewed interest in research. To this end, the Academy developed grant seminars for its membership.

By 1993, the Academy's full-time staff had grown to five, including a director of affairs, manager of continuing education, project manager, and two administrative staff members. In addition, the Academy, along with AOPA and ABC, employed the services of the National Office executive director and 14 other National Office departmental employees for meeting planning, management information services, accounting, office management, publications, and marketing.

C. Michael Schuch, CPO, FISPO, FAAOP, was appointed editor-in-chief of the JPO. At this time, the Academy had 1,600 members. At the 1993 Annual Meeting, the Academy's societies sponsored sessions during the Scientific Symposium and all registrants received a Journal of Proceedings that contained 75 entries. That same year, the first Academy Video Institute, Management of the Neuropathic and Dysvascular Patient, made its debut. The Academy's emphasis on continuing education for its members did not go unnoticed by ABC, which extended MCE requirements to all certified practitioners effective December 1, 1994.

1993 also saw the introduction of the Program for Professional Development (PPD), an initiative to ensure a variety of continuing education opportunities that appealed to members in different regions, work environments, and with different experience levels would be offered. This initiative led to the formation of the Education Development Council, comprised of the chairs of the Academy's various education programs. The council's charge was to develop a topic-driven system of high-quality continuing education offerings that were not only available in a variety of formats and locations, but were also cost effective for members.

The Gait Society debuted in 1994.

1995 represented the Silver Anniversary of the Academy and its 25 years of service and dedication to advancing the knowledge of ABC-credentialed practitioners through continuing education. The 21st Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium was the highlight of the year, with the largest attendance ever at an Academy Annual Meeting yet. During the Silver Anniversary celebrations at the Annual Meeting, the Academy began offering Certificate Programs for Professional Development and established the Fellow of the Academy designation. The first certificate program focused on clinical patient management. Along with its traditional education goals, the Academy formally embraced another responsibility on behalf of its members: initiating a grassroots effort to market the ABC credentials of its member practitioners.

Building the Academy Presence

In 1996, the Academy internally restructured the organization of the councils and committees. The Professional Issues Council (PIC) was established, as were the Chapter Presidents Council (CPC), the Scientific Societies Council (SSC), and the Consumer Advocacy and Relations Council (CA&RC). They joined the existing Education Development Council (EDC). The EDC was expanded to include the Online Education & Communications Committee.

The PIC developed key position statements related to the ethical conduct and contended that ABC-credentialed practitioners were the most qualified providers of comprehensive O&P health care.

The Academy worked with AOPA to develop and disseminate educational materials related to the new ABC Facility Accreditation Program and Standards. The co-management of this program with AOPA was recognized with an award from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Associations Advance America program.

A highlight of 1996 was the unveiling of the Academy website at www.oandp.org. It was launched and promoted as the start of the Academy's efforts to reach more practitioners and to eventually provide online education.

In 1996, the Academy developed and managed the scientific programs for the six AOPA regional meetings and for the AOPA Assembly. The Academy was awarded a trophy for excellence in technology-based education at the ASAE Management Conference in Chicago for the Patient Management Video and Monograph.

The Academy continued to publish quarterly issues of the membership newsletter, The Academician. The Academy also co-published the monthly O&P Almanac with ABC and AOPA through the O&P National Office. The Academy published the second Program of Work & Membership Kit, an Association Trends award winner that included a copy of the 1996 Strategic Plan and important information regarding the benefits associated with Academy membership.

The Academy's membership stood at 1,700 Active members in 1997. Thomas A. Gorski was hired as the Academy's executive director in August 1997. Thomas M. Gavin, CO, was appointed editor-in-chief of the JPO.

The Academy offered the first One-Day Seminar in Dallas, Texas, in 1998 to more than 100 attendees. Program participants were able to complete an entire Certificate Program for Professional Development in one day, allowing them to more quickly achieve the Fellow of the Academy designation.

The Academy was thrilled to induct the first class of Academy Fellows at the 1998 Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium in Miami. Twenty-five Academy members were inducted as Academy Fellows, setting the standard for other practitioners.

The Academy continued to build its publications library with the addition of the Compendium Update-Orthotics and Prosthetics Historical, Educational and Credentialing Compendium; Below-Knee Patient Care Booklet (available in English and Spanish); Above-Knee Patient Care Booklet; Pathways to Competency; and Orthology.

The Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium evolved to meet the needs of practitioners in the ever-changing profession. Based on feedback from a Blue Ribbon Task Force comprised of leaders in the profession and member focus groups, the Annual Meeting format was redesigned to include instructional courses, technical workshops, professional development sessions, and abstract-driven free papers.

In an effort to continue to meet the practitioner education needs, the Academy launched its distance learning programs with the Audio Conference Education Series (ACES) and Professional Audio-Web Education Series (PAWES) programs, which gave practitioners the opportunity to earn credits from their home or office.

Changing with the Times

In 2000, the Academy Board approved the development of clinical standards of practice and advocacy to the Academy Strategic Plan, calling it "the most important next step the Academy will take on behalf of the profession." In so doing, the PIC took the lead for advocacy inquiries to the Academy and the Academy became more involved in legislative issues.

In its legislative activities, the Academy took a leadership role in the quest for FDA approval of Plagiocephaly helmets. The Academy also protested the inclusion of O&P in the HCFA Competitive Bidding Project. Membership on the AOPA Government Relations Committee was opened to the Academy as well.

The Academy Board also approved a statement endorsing state licensure as the preferred method of establishing patient protection mechanisms, provided that licensure standards were equivalent to those developed by NCOPE and recognized by CAAHEP. The Academy also sent a letter to President Bill Clinton on behalf of the Landmine Survivors Network asking him to sign the Ottawa Treaty.

With a focus on expanding service to the O&P profession, the Academy established the Affiliate membership category, expanded the Academy societies with the addition of the Fabrication Sciences Society, launched listservs for societies and chapter presidents, and debuted the members'-only section on the website.

The Academy strengthened its relationships with the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) and the Amputee Coalition of America (now the Amputee Coalition).

The Academy Annual Meeting saw the 2000 debut of the Partner Program, aimed at increasing the participation of Academy exhibitors in the meeting. Partners were recognized at the gold or silver level depending on their total investment in the Academy's meeting.

The Academy took over the complete rights and responsibilities of the JPO. The credibility of the Academy publication opportunities were improved with the hiring of Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins as the publisher of the JPO. The year 2000 also saw the debut of the Academy's online bookstore, year-round publication the Academician, and the creation of the Research Reference Guide, as well as its placement on the Academy website.

A New Era

By 2001, the deconsolidation from AOPA and ABC was complete and the Academy was independent. In May 2001, the Academy relocated to 526 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia. The Academy's reserve fund totaled $291,190.

As part of its transition to independence, the Academy instated the vision statement, "Professionals providing better care through knowledge."

In 2000, a vote to shift the governance year resulted in the election of the board to serve from July 1 to June 30 of the following year, a change that took effect in 2001. This allowed the reports at the Annual Business Meeting to focus more on what was accomplished for the membership in the current year instead of what was being planned.

Project Quantum Leap was launched at the 2001 Academy Annual Meeting as the vehicle for changing and validating how practitioners practice with the goal of offering consensus conferences geared toward developing standards of practice for the O&P profession and embarking on broad-based programs to empower research in targeted areas.

2001 saw James H. Campbell, PhD, CO, FAAOP, of Becker Orthopedic Appliances take on the role of JPO editor-in-chief. In partnership with Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, the quarterly journal was redesigned.

In 2002, the Academy enhanced its legislative activities. The primary focus remained on the federal government's competitive bidding initiative, negotiated rulemaking, in order to protect the interpretation of "qualified provider" of O&P care. Academy members also faxed a foot-high stack of letters to Congress in support of reinstating funding for O&P schools, and Donald E. Katz, CO, FAAOP, and Susan Kapp, CPO, FAAOP, testified before a Department of Education hearing on the issue. The Academy also developed a comprehensive model HIPAA compliance plan and special privacy officers supplement notebook to assist its members.

Through the direction and leadership of Academy President-Elect Donald E. Katz, CO, FAAOP, the Academy successfully completed the Consensus Conference on the Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis. It was funded in part by a special grant from the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Joint Committee on O&P Awareness, led by the Academy, began implementing the goals it laid out under Project Quantum Leap, including the development of the career website www.opcareers.org, a career fair presentation package, and a comprehensive O&P career brochure for use by guidance counselors.

The 2002 Academy Annual Meeting in Orlando set a new record attendance of 1,535 attendees. The Academy also presented the Georgia Institute of Technology with a library of O&P materials in support of their new master's level O&P program.

2002 was also a big year for the JPO as it began being listed on Excerpta Medica, a biomedical and pharmacological database that provides access to up-to-date information about medical and drug-related subjects.

First Department of Education Grant Re-Focuses Academy Activities

The Academy's first one-year Department of Education grant was announced on December 1, 2003 and funded retroactively to October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004. The grant focused on the increasing demand for O&P provider services and developing the framework to improve the quality of applied O&P research, education, and patient care.

In 2003, the Academy, in conjunction with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, held a two-day conference to collect and discuss current information on microprocessor knee prostheses. In the same year, the findings from the first consensus conference to document clinical standards of practice (CSOP) on the orthotic treatment of idiopathic scoliosis and Scheuermann's Kyphosis were published as a first-ever supplement to the JPO. Gary Berke, MS, CP, FAAOP, and Douglas Smith, MD, co-chaired the second CSOP consensus conference on post-operative management of the lower extremity amputee.

The Academy represented the individual ABC-certified practitioner on "qualified provider" and "qualified supplier" definitions during the arduous negotiated rulemaking process over the course of eight months of meetings along with representatives from 20 other organizations. The decision rested with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Unfortunately, there was never a successful completion of the negotiated rulemaking process.

The addition of ABC fitters as Associate members helped the Academy reach a new record membership of 2,500 in 2003.

The Academy continued to offer CSOPs. The Academy's third CSOP, Orthotic Treatment of Deformational Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, and Scaphocephaly, was held April 7 through 9, 2004. The Academy's fourth CSOP, Orthotic and Pedorthic Management of the Neuropathic Foot, was held in August 2004.

Academy publications continued to be active in 2004 as Jeffrey A. Nemeth, CPO, FAAOP, was appointed editor-in-chief of the JPO. CSOP 2, Post-Operative Management of the Lower Extremity Amputee, was published in July. Supplement to the Orthotic Treatment of Deformational Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly and Scaphocephaly was published in October and The ACADEMICIAN EXPRESS was launched in December.

The Academy received its second one-year grant from the Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration, which ran from October 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005. This grant focused on continuing awareness efforts and establishing standards for the format, implementation, evaluation, and outcomes dissemination for an ongoing series of State of the Science conferences. Through the grant, the Academy developed online continuing education courses based on the conferences that investigated prosthetic outcomes measures in lower-limb prosthetics and knee-ankle-foot orthoses for ambulation.

Change in Leadership

In January 2005, the Academy and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs signed an agreement that the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (JRRD) would be sent to all Academy members.

In 2005, the Academy received a generous $50,000 donation from the Leimkuehler family toward the Paul E. Leimkuehler Online Learning Center (OLC), which was launched at the Academy's Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium that year.

As a result of the 2005 Academy Board Strategic Planning Meeting, the Research Council was formed to focus on the Academy's interest in pursuing and promoting research in the O&P profession.

Academy Executive Director Tom Gorski resigned in April of 2005. At that time, an annual Academy audit showed that, as of November 30, 2004, the reserve fund stood at $172,000. The Academy gained new leadership when Peter D. Rosenstein joined the Academy as executive director in September of 2005. Rosenstein was entrusted to build the Academy's financial stability and enhance the administrative capacity of the organization to accomplish its mission.

The Academy was awarded a third federal grant commencing October 1, 2005 and running through September 30, 2006. Though grant funds were awarded for a one-year period, the Academy applied for and received a one-year no-cost extension to complete additional projects under the auspices of the grant.

2005 was a big year for publications. The Academy's new in-house magazine, the Academy TODAY, debuted in April of 2005. The Academy also provided complimentary copies of the Netter Posters, anatomical posters dealing specifically with O&P topics, to Academy members as part of the Academy's Department of Education grant. 2005 saw the formalization of the Academy's Research Council.

2006 was another active year in publications. The supplement on SSC 6, Outcome Measures in Lower Limb Prosthetics, was published in January. The SSC 7, Knee-Ankle Foot Orthoses for Ambulation, was held February 11 and 12, 2006. The SSC 7 supplement of Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthoses for Ambulation was published in June, and the last issue of The ACADEMICIAN EXPRESS was published in July.

SSC 5, Prosthetic Foot Ankle Mechanisms, was held April 14 through 16, 2005. SSC 6, Outcome Measures in Lower Limb Prosthetics, was held September 7 through 9, 2005. The supplement of CSOP 4, Orthotic and Pedorthic Management of the Neuropathic Foot, was published in April of 2005. The supplement of the Prosthetic Foot Ankle Mechanisms SSC was published in October of 2005.

Working Together

In 2006, the Academy formalized an agreement with AOPA, ABC, and NAAOP to form the O&P Alliance. The Alliance enabled the field to speak with one voice to legislators and the federal government. Joining the Alliance was a major step forward in the Academy's efforts to influence legislation and policy. An Alliance committee was formed and became part of the PIC. .

The Academy received its fourth federal grant from the Department of Education in 2006. This grant ran from October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007. During this grant year, the Academy began a program that invited local area high school students to the Annual Meeting to introduce them to the O&P profession. This program has continued at subsequent Annual Meetings and has been a very successful part of the Academy's O&P career awareness efforts.

The Women in Orthotics & Prosthetics Committee held its first meeting at the 2006 Academy Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium. Its mission is to expand and improve educational and professional opportunities for women in the field or looking to enter it.

The Academy closed 2006 with a reserve fund balance of $774,914 and 2,700 members.

The Academy's first O&P awareness video, "The Sky's the Limit," debuted at the Academy Annual Meeting in San Francisco in March 2007. In addition, the Academy's first public service announcements (PSAs) were released and viewed by more than 20 million people. The Academy mailed the video and accompanying information on the profession to more than 14,000 members of the rehabilitation field. Each O&P education program was given a copy of the video to assist them in their recruitment efforts.

2007 also saw the first meeting of educators at an Academy Annual Meeting for the purpose of sharing information from the Academy and its councils. In addition, the Academy hosted the first annual residency networking session at its Annual Meeting to educate current O&P students about the residency process.

SSC 8, The Biomechanics of Amputation after Partial Foot Amputation, was held in March and the results published in July 2007.

The Licensure Task Force of the PIC launched the Licensure Tool Kit: A Comprehensive Guide to Orthotic & Prosthetic Licensure on the Academy's website.

The Academy on the Move

The Academy offices relocated from Alexandria, Virginia, to Washington, DC, in June 2008. .

David A. Boone, CP, MPH, PhD, was appointed editor-in-chief of the JPO in 2008.

In April 2008, the Orthotic and Prosthetic Education and Research Foundation (OPERF) was officially incorporated. Consequently, funds raised for research and education were directed to OPERF rather than PQL. However, the PQL name continued to be associated with the Academy's federal grant and would remain viable until October 2010, at which time the name was retired.

In October 2008, the Academy received its fifth grant from the Department of Education. From 2003 to 2009 the Academy received five one-year grants from the Department of Education, totaling approximately $4.9 million. Through the grants, the Academy was able to improve the level of research in orthotics and prosthetics, create standards of practice within the profession, fund NCOPE projects directed at moving the entry-level education requirement for O&P to the master's level, and increase awareness about careers in orthotics and prosthetics. The grant also funded a study to determine where additional practitioners were needed geographically. All of these efforts contributed to the Academy's overarching goal of improving the level of patient care for those in need of orthotic and prosthetic treatment.

2008 also saw the Academy launch its mentoring program. The program is sponsored by the Women in Orthotics and Prosthetics Committee and is open to all Academy members. The program pairs protégés (students, residents, practitioners with any amount of experience who want instruction in an area of special interest) with a mentor (practitioner with more than three years of experience) to help them define and achieve their career goals. The program began with 26 participants in 2008.

In December 2008, the Academy, through the O&P Alliance approached the Board of Certification/Accreditation, International (BOC) to encourage it to elevate its education qualifications for certification to the same level as those required by ABC. A historic agreement was signed by all parties and then shared with CMS requesting specific minimum education and training requirements consistent with those in place at ABC for those allowed to bill Medicare for custom orthotics and prosthetics.

Also in 2008, the Academy launched the Recommended Reading section on its website and entered into a partnership that allowed members to purchase books from Amazon.com. In March of 2008, the Academy introduced its new searchable online member directory.

2008 also saw the Academy work with the Small Business Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to arrange a hearing on how the profession works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to serve the O&P needs of the nation's veterans. The Academy also testified at the subsequent hearing.

In 2008, finances continued to improve and the year ended with an Academy reserve fund balance of $1,681,585.

In September 2009, the Academy's Literature Update debuted. This email update is sent to the Academy membership on a regular basis to both share and raise awareness of current research in orthotics and prosthetics outside of the JPO.

2009 also saw the launch of the Women in Orthotics and Prosthetics website. The site spotlights a female leader in the profession each quarter and lists resources to connect female leaders in O&P who are willing to provide assistance and feedback in their specific areas of expertise to members.

SSC 9, Upper Limb Prosthetic Outcome Measures, was held in March 2009. The results of SSC 9 were published and mailed to all members as well as leaders in the rehabilitation field in October 2009.

2009 was a banner year for Academy publications. The following won awards from the Annual Association Trends All-Media Contest: gold for the careers website, silver for the JPO, and bronze awards for both the career awareness DVD and the career awareness PSA (60 second spot).

2009 also saw the Academy reach its financial goal of having a reserve fund equal to its annual operating budget. The year ended with the reserve fund at $2,279,239.

In February 2010, the Academy released its second awareness video, "A Future with Meaning: Making a Career of Making a Difference." The video features an interview with Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth and highlights the opportunities for O&P careers for returning military veterans, among others. The Academy also released its second set of PSAs, which were viewed by more than 11 million individuals across the country. The Academy continued to run successful One-Day Seminars, and in October of 2010, more than 90 attendees participated in the program in Chicago.

2010 also saw the Academy join with AOPA to create a joint website to assist the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The website was designed to help the O&P profession focus on Haitian relief efforts. In addition, the Academy made a generous donation to the American Red Cross for Haitian relief.

In February 2010, a completely new Academy website was unveiled at the Annual Meeting in Chicago. That meeting set a record for attendance-1,750 people.

2010 was another successful year for Academy publications with the debut of a series of Evidence Notes designed to distill the findings of the successful series of SSCs into brief two-page summaries that are easy to for clinicians to use. A new JPO website was unveiled along with a well-received redesign of its cover and interior pages. SSC 10, The Effect of Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs) on Balance, was held June 22 through 24, 2010, and the results were published and sent to all members of the Academy with the October 2010 issue of the JPO.

In November 2010, the Academy published a summary of its grant accomplishments entitled "What Have We Learned?" This document summarized the work that the Academy accomplished with the assistance of Department of Education grants and how this work positively affected the profession and clinical practice. The brochure was shared with Academy members, other members of the profession and rehabilitation community, members of Congress, and the press.

The Academy ended 2010 with a reserve balance of $2,900,000 and membership at 3,200.

Moving Forward

In 2011, the Online Learning Center (OLC) turned six and boasted more than 2,500 users and more than 400 online courses, with new courses added monthly. The Women in Orthotics and Prosthetics mentoring program grew to include more than 93 participants.

June 2011 saw the debut of the Academy ADVANTAGE, a monthly e-newsletter distributed to all Academy members that highlights news and events in O&P. The Recommended Reading section of the Academy's website was launched, featuring reviews written by experienced clinicians to summarize content and describe how a variety of texts can be used by students, practitioners, and researchers.

In the summer of 2011 the Academy launched online courses to teach O&P Professionals Spanish terms that facilitate communication with patients. Spanish for Orthotics, Spanish for Prosthetics and Spanish for Orthotics and Prosthetics – The Basics are the three courses that the Academy has designed to help practitioners better communicate with Spanish-speaking patients.

The Academy also developed and updated its Licensure Tool Kit to assist individuals with O&P state licensure efforts. The Tool Kit contains draft legislation and helpful talking points on the benefits of licensure as well as some guidelines to consider when hiring a lobbyist.

The fall of 2011 saw the Academy join the O&P Alliance and BOC to support the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2011, H.R. 1958. Members were urged to take the time to read the information regarding this bill and the reasons the Academy joined the O&P Alliance and BOC in support of this legislation.

The Academy’s Student/Resident Committee’s new website debuted. Its goal was to facilitate leadership and growth for O&P students and residents. The website centralized efforts to enhance clinical applications, increase professional advocacy, establish opportunities for mentoring, create networking resources, and address issues key to the development of a confident, knowledgeable practitioner.

Peter Rosenstein, executive director of the Academy, testified at the Department of Health and Human Services Health Benefits Providers session Tuesday, October 18, 2011, regarding the need to specifically name orthotics and prosthetics as essential health services within the "Essential Benefits Package" of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The Academy ended 2011 with a reserve balance of $3,124,596 and membership at 3,190.

Academy Outreach Efforts in the O&P Profession Continue

The start of 2012 saw the Academy support the reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act with other major organizations. The Academy also released a member survey to determine the wants and needs of the membership. As a result of that survey the Academy Board of Directors began to offer the first year of Active membership for only $165 to qualifying members.

In 2012 the national healthcare debate continued. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and the Academy and its sister organizations continued to monitor the ruling’s implications for O&P care providers and their patients. The Academy signed on to a document that provided technical assistance and outlined what we believe must be part of the essential benefit package for states and those planning for their exchanges.

By 2012 sixteen states had adopted licensure with Iowa and Pennsylvania being the most recent additions.

The Academy, under the direction of its vice president and publications committee chair, Phil Stevens, MEd, CPO, FAAOP, developed a collection of publications that serve as valuable resources for O&P professionals. These recommended publications are available on the Academy website through a partnership with Amazon.com that makes purchasing them convenient. The list of Academy recommended publications are searchable by subject (anecdotal, lower limb, spinal, upper limb, and reference). Over half of the publications on this list have been reviewed by a group of experienced O&P practitioners to assess their usefulness for students, clinicians, and researchers. Publications that have been reviewed are marked with the “Academy Review” icon beneath the publication link.

Efforts to reach international practitioners continued through the OLC as the Academy partnered with the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) to translate two Academy Paul E. Leimkuehler Online Learning Center (OLC) courses into Spanish for use by ISPO members.

In response to the requirement of a Master’s Degree the first in a special series of the Academy TODAY issues featured insights on the future of O&P education from the credentialing bodies, educators, and practitioners. The issue included profiles from eleven of the education programs around the nation.

The board of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists donated $5,000 to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The devastation in the northeast was so widespread that the board felt it was important to make individual donations but also to donate on behalf of the members of the Academy.

In 2012 the Academy Online Learning Center (OLC) boasted 7,758 users and total revenue of over $90,000.

The Academy ended 2012 with a reserve balance of $3,528,467 and membership at 3,222.

To further the Academy’s alliances in the profession and to provide benefits to Academy members in January 2013 the Academy and the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) partnered to offer each other’s members complimentary access to 12 articles in the organizations’ respective journals this year.

2013 also saw the appointment of a new editor-in-chief of its scientific journal, the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics (JPO). The editor is appointed for a three year term and may be reappointed for a second three year term. Steve Gard, PhD was appointed to a three year term as Editor-in-Chief of JPO.

In its continued efforts and care of patients the Academy partnered with AOPA and other O&P organizations to help those who needed it following the Boston Marathon bombing. This coalition provided access to care for uninsured/underinsured amputee victims.

In 2013 the Academy Online Learning Center (OLC) boasted 10,692 users and total revenue of over $121,215.

The Academy ended 2013 with a reserve balance of $3,847,994 and membership at 3,174.

In 2014 CMS announced changes to the RAC program as it began to select new contractors for the next round of the Recovery Audit program. CMS issued a "pause" in further RAC audits until the new RAC contracts are issued. The Academy and the O&P Alliance worked on this issue relentlessly.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the O&P Alliance expressed its concerns about the competitive bidding program and the methodology for setting payment amounts for “off-the-shelf” (OTS) orthotics. The letter was submitted during advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM), when an agency solicits public comments.

The Academy, along with the 30 national organizations that comprise the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition (DRRC), submitted testimony on the future of biomedical research for the record to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Appropriations for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

The HOPE Consortium solicited the Academy’s assistance to produce a brochure, video, and website aimed at spreading awareness of O&P careers and the excellent opportunities they offer to people who are new to the job market as well as more experienced workers seeking a change. The HOPE Consortium is comprised of five O&P colleges: Baker College in Flint, Michigan; Century College in White Bear Lake, Minnesota; Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Oklahoma; Spokane Falls Community College in Spokane, Washington; and St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida. These projects were supported by a grant that the HOPE Consortium received from the U.S. Department of Labor—Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Program.

The Academy exhibited at the nation's largest science and technology conference as part of its ongoing efforts to promote awareness of careers in orthotics and prosthetics.

The Academy exhibited at the recent USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. The event was attended by an estimated 325,000 individuals who were enthusiastic about learning more about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through interactive exhibits and stage shows. Billed as “the largest celebration of science and engineering in the US,” the Academy was joined by exhibitors such as the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and Lockheed Martin and celebrities including Bill Nye (the Science Guy), the Science Cheerleaders, Mike Rowe (host of “Dirty Jobs”), and indie rock band They Might Be Giants.”

The Academy worked with the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) on a joint letter addressing the documentation requirements for lower limb prosthetic Medicare claims established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the August 2011 “Dear Physician” letter. Both organizations agreed that confusion about this issue led to extensive auditing by Medicare Administrative Contractors. There was evidence that these audits caused a “chilling effect” in prosthetic limb prescriptions that raised serious questions as to whether Medicare beneficiaries were receiving appropriate prosthetic technology and quality prosthetic care.

The O&P Alliance sent a letter to the DME MACs regarding their joint correct coding guidance entitled “Definitions Used for Off-the-Shelf Versus Custom Fitted Prefabricated Orthotics (Braces)-Revised,” which was issued on March 27, 2014. While praising some aspects of the joint guidance, highlighted some areas were highlighted needing additional clarification. Many of the key concerns echoed those expressed by the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) in a letter it sent to Laurence Wilson of CMS on April 2, 2014.

The Academy and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) held a joint live webinar titled “Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics: What You Need to Document to Avoid Denials.” More than 150 physiatrists and O&P practitioners participated in the free webinar to learn more about strategies to avoid Medicare denials under the new standards of documentation for prosthetic limb care. The webinar is available on-demand via the Academy Online Learning Center.

The Academy released an executive summary in response to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) challenging the effectiveness of remolding helmets in the management of plagiocephaly.

The O&P Alliance urged CMS to withdraw a proposal to remove a number of diagnosis codes related to amputation. The threatened codes were part of the list of codes that were presumptively compliant with the so-called “60 Percent Rule” for Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals and Units (“IRFs”) classification.

In a letter to CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the O&P Alliance expressed concerns about the proposed Medicare definition of “minimal self-adjustment” for purposes of covering the provision of off-the-shelf (OTS) orthotics under the Medicare program.

The Protecting Integrity in Medicare Act of 2014 (PIMA) aimed to be a set of commonsense provisions that helped contain waste, fraud, and abuse without placing undue burden on legitimate Medicare providers or their patients. In a letter to the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health, the O&P Alliance asked that continuing focus be placed on audit and administrative appeal reforms, duplication of audit contractors, lengthy delays, and unfairness in the administrative appeal process. The O&P Alliance asked that the group include in its deliberations inclusion of the prosthetist’s records, appropriate calculations of O&P error rates, and separation between DME and O&P claims.

Representatives from the O&P Alliance met with CMS to discuss issues including off-the-shelf (OTS) orthotics, the CMS proposed rule on certified orthotic fitters, and whether prior authorization is appropriate in O&P care.

In 2014 the Academy Online Learning Center (OLC) boasted 12,7000 users and total revenue of over $161, 400.

The Academy ended 2014 with a reserve balance of $4,305,709 and membership at 3,282.

In February 2015 the Academy and its President, Phil Stevens, MEd, CPO, FAAOP addressed the interest in the momentum of various 3-D printed prehensile devices. Several media outlets released unfortunate stories that mischaracterize the limitations of these devices while simultaneously inflating the "average costs" of "traditional prostheses." This recent article in thedailybeast.com does a nice job of presenting a balanced narrative of the movement and its current limitations while trying to correct some of the misperceptions that have been erroneously spread by many in the popular media.

The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy) has announced the release of orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) career materials created in partnership with the Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (HOPE) Careers Consortium. The consortium, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor—Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Program, solicited the Academy’s assistance to produce a brochure, video, and website aimed at spreading awareness of O&P careers and the excellent opportunities they offer to people who are new to the job market as well as more experienced workers seeking a change.

The O&P Alliance and the Amputee Coalition submitted written testimony to the Subcommittee on Health on a hearing held on “Medicare Post-Acute Care Delivery and Options to Improve It.” The testimony clearly states both organizations feel Medicare PAC bundling is premature at this time due to lack of reliable treatment and outcomes data. Click the link above to read the full written testimony.

The Academy and the other members of the O&P Alliance have been working to get the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and the Amputee Coalition (AC) to join with us in a letter that urges CMS to include and recognize orthotist and prosthetist notes in patients’ medical record that CMS reviews during audits. Both groups have now signed on to the letter, which has been submitted to CMS. Click the link above to read the letter.

In July 2015 staff leadership in the Academy shifted. Peter Rosenstein, executive director of the Academy resigned. In August 2015 Lydia Middleton, MBA, CAE was appointed as Executive Director of the Academy.

The Academy worked diligently with its partners in the O&P Alliance to address the proposed/draft Local Coverage Determination (LCD): Lower Limb Prostheses (DL33787). Multiple avenues for impacting the process were employed by the Academy and partners. These included a flier geared toward patients to explain the proposed LCD submitting an online statement to CMS. The profession made history in the number of signatures achieved on the petition, SaveProsthetics.org.

In September 2015 the Academy announced the release of a new evidence note titled “Differences in myoelectric and body-powered upper-limb prostheses.” Evidence notes are brief summaries of current evidence regarding specific health technologies. They provide a synopsis of up-to-date synthesized evidence in the form of systematic reviews or evidence reports. Evidence notes do not provide healthcare recommendations but rather direct clinicians, manufacturers, third-party payers, and other professionals to sources of evidence that support decision-making. Read the evidence note.

In November 2015 the Academy introduced Critically Appraised Topics for Orthotics and Prosthetics (CATs). This is research evidence that can applied in clinical practice. A critically appraised topic (CAT) is a standardized, brief summary of research evidence organized around a clinical question. CATs are intended to provide both a critical summary of primary knowledge sources (e.g., journal articles) as well as statements regarding the clinical relevance of the results. As such, they represent a translation of primary knowledge sources into more accessible secondary knowledge sources, with the ultimate objective of facilitating the transfer of knowledge derived from published evidence into clinical practice. View a complete listing of the Academy's CATs.

In 2015 the Academy Online Learning Center (OLC) boasted 11,100 users and total revenue of over $167,650.

The Academy ended 2015 with a reserve balance of $4,441,939 and membership at 3,153.

With change underway the Academy unveiled a new logo in March 2016. This first phase of its corporate rebranding effort reflected the forward movement of the organization’s vision while maintaining the prestige of its deep-rooted history.

In April 2016 the Academy, with support from the HOPE Careers Consortium, participated in the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. This is the largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) event in the country and draws more than 350,000 attendees. The Academy focused on educating attendees about orthotics and prosthetics and the careers available in the profession.

April 2016 saw more change with the resignation of Lydia Middleton, MBA, CAE as Executive Director of the Academy and the naming of Chellie Blondes as Interim Executive Director.

The Academy, ever-focused on member needs, convened a Steering Committee and launched a Member Needs Survey to determine the wants and needs of Academy members and nonmembers in the profession.