The American Board for Certification of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Appliance Industry (ABC) was established on September 9, 1948. Its founding fathers included, ABC’s first President Chester E. Haddan, CPO, three orthopedic surgeons and three orthotic and prosthetic practitioners. These leaders determined that certified individuals would be designated Certified Orthotists and Certified Prosthetists, rather than “fitters” as all orthotic and prosthetic professionals were originally referred and that an exam would be required for ABC certification.
The first certifying exam was held in New York City in 1951, with 51 individuals certified in the first year. The board amended the organization’s name for the first time in 1959, dropping the term appliance industry and adopting the name American Board for Certification in Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc.
1960's & 70's
In 1968, the ABC Character and Fitness Committee (now the Professional Ethics Committee) was created to review ethical misconduct and oversee a consumer complaint process. In 1970, realizing that the need for more continuing education options was important to both ABC and the profession as a whole, ABC and the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) sponsored the establishment of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP).
Two years later, ABC created both the Educational Accreditation Commission (EAC) to develop O&P programs with colleges and universities and the Continuing Education Policy Committee which established continuing education requirements for all ABC certified practitioners and gradually phased these requirements in over the next decade.
Following three years of debate, the 1973 board of directors approved a historic change in the certification eligibility criteria, determining that candidates must possess a minimum of an Associate of the Arts degree in orthotics and/or prosthetics to be eligible for the ABC certification exams.
1980's & 90's
Thirteen years after approving the requirement of an associate’s degree, ABC board raised the minimum educational standard to a bachelor’s degree.
In the early 1990’s, the Facility Accreditation program was revamped to improve the standards further. To meet these goals, new standards were developed and an onsite survey became mandatory.
ABC’s responsibility for overseeing primary O&P education was passed on to the newly created
National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) in 1991. By 1995, ABC began requiring an NCOPE residency to obtain certification as an orthotist and/or prosthetist.
In 2002 the ABC board unanimously voted to create orthotic and mastectomy fitter credentialing programs and by 2006, they had added the therapeutic shoe fitter credentialing program
for providers of non-custom diabetic footwear and inserts. Also in
2006, ABC was awarded Deemed Status for accrediting organizations by the
Centers for Medicare/Medicais Services (CMS).
On January 1, 2007, the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP)
was integrated into ABC. This integration brought along a new name, the
American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and
Pedorthics, Inc., and more than 2,500 certified pedorthists.
In 2009, the
International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) awarded ABC and NCOPE
Category I recognition. The ABC/NCOPE CPO pathway is recognized throughout the world as having met the highest international education standards in existence today. ABC is the only credentialing body in the U.S. to receive Category I recognition from ISPO.
The most recent addition to ABC’s credentialing programs came in spring of 2013 with the establishment of its
Central Fabrication Accreditation program, created to ensure that the entire continuum of care is represented by ABC accreditation programs, offering O&P business owners the assurance that those central fabrication facilities they partner with are held to the same level of standards that they have already met.