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Academy History (cont)
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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 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 ongoing efforts to improve the care of patients the Academy partnered with AOPA and other O&P organizations to help those in need or prosthetic care following the Boston Marathon bombing. This coalition provided access to care for uninsured or 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 12,700 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 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, after 10 years as executive director, Peter Rosenstein retired. 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,

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), research evidence that can applied directly 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. The final CAT 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 current 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.



The American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 760
Bethesda, MD 20814
(202) 380-3663