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 >>>