The American Board for Certification of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Appliance Industry (ABC) was established in 1948 and continues to work setting clinical standards, furthering professionalism and establishing the orthotics and prosthetics practitioner as a member of the allied health care community.
At the time of ABC’s inception, Chester E. Haddon, CPO, three orthopedic surgeons and three orthotic and prosthetic practitioners developed the initial growth plan and established a strategic direction. One of their first decisions was determining how to refer to the orthotic and prosthetic professionals who would come to abide by the set standards. The founding fathers felt that independent titles for O&P professionals would further professionalize and distinguish the profession. The board elected to establish the terms Certified Orthotist and Certified Prosthetist for those individuals who met ABC requirements.
The board amended the organization’s name for the first time in 1959, dropping the term “appliance industry” and adopting the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, Inc.In 1970, ABC recognized that continuing education is important to both ABC and the profession as a whole. Believing that practitioners would benefit from additional continuing education efforts, ABC and the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) sponsored the establishment of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP). Two years later, the ABC Continuing Education Policy Department Committee was created. This committee soon recommended the establishment of continuing education requirements for all ABC-certified practitioners. The unanimously approved requirements were gradually phased in over the next 10 years.In 1973, after much debate, the board of directors approved the historic change in certification eligibility requirements. It was determined that a high school diploma was no longer sufficient for certification. Only candidates who possessed a minimum of an associate of arts degree in orthotics and/or prosthetics would be eligible to sit for the ABC certification exams. Thirteen years later the board would raise the minimum education standard to a bachelor’s degree.During the 90’s the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) was created to help meet the need for advanced education. ABC sponsored NCOPE’s founding and eventually required an NCOPE residency to obtain certification as an orthotist and/or prosthetist.In early 1990 the ABC Facility Accreditation Program was revamped. The organization felt the need to examine the accreditation standards used to define the setting for the provision of quality care. To meet these goals, new standards were developed and an onsite survey became mandatory. In 2002 the ABC board unanimously voted to create orthotic and mastectomy fitter credentialing programs. Soon after, thousands of professionals applied for the new certification programs, validating that standards programs and credentialing services were needed and desired for professional providers of non-custom orthotic devices and post-mastectomy prostheses and products. By 2006, ABC had added the certified fitter of therapeutic shoes program for providers of non-custom diabetic footwear and inserts. Following a vote by certified pedorthists represented by the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP), the BCP was integrated into ABC on Jan. 1, 2007. This integration brought a new name, the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, Inc., and more than 2,500 certified pedorthists.
This is the first time in the history of the profession that all orthotic, prosthetic and pedorthic professionals are under one standard-setting organization. Although the size, scope and name of ABC have changed over the last 60 years, the organization’s early mission still rings true today.
The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) has awarded ABC and the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) Category I recognition.
The Category I recognition validates the ABC/NCOPE pathway for its Certified Prosthetist Orthotist certification program. With this recognition the ABC/NCOPE CPO pathway is recognized throughout the world as having met the highest international educational standards in existence today. ABC is the only credentialing body in the United States to receive Category I recognition from ISPO.