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Academy History—1970 to Present
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.