Our History

The American Board for Certification of the​ Orthotic and Prosthetic Appliance Industry (ABC) was established on September 9, 1948. Its founding fathers determined that instead of being referred to as 'fitters', certified individuals would be designated Certified Orthotists and Certified Prosthetists and a competency exam would be required to attain certification. 

1948

ABC is founded September 1948 as the American Board for Certification of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Appliance Industry by Chester E. Haddan, CPO and three orthopedic surgeons. This is the beginning of a long history of excellence in the orthotics and prosthetics profession.

1951

The first ABC certification exam is administered in New York City in 1951. In that first year, 51 individuals attain their certification. 

1959

The ABC Board votes to drop the term appliance industry from it's original name and adopt the name American Board for Certification in Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc.

1968

The ABC Character and Fitness Committee (now Professional Ethics Committee) is created to review practitioner ethical misconduct and oversee a consumer complaint process.

1970

Realizing the need for additional continuing education options, ABC and the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA)​  sponsor the establishment of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP).

1972

ABC creates both the Educational Accreditation Commission (EAC) to develop O&P programs with colleges and universities and the Continuing Education Policy Committee to establish continuing education requirements for all ABC certified practitioners, phasing these requirements in over the next decade. 

1973

Following three years of debate, the ABC Board approves a historic change in 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. 

1985

Michael A. Lewis, CPO is elected ABC Board of Directors President, the organizations first Black president.  

1986

ABC raises the minimum educational standard to a bachelor’s degree. 

1990

The Facility Accreditation program is revamped to further improve the standards. New standards are developed and an onsite survey becomes mandatory. 

1991

ABC’s responsibility for overseeing primary O&P education is passed on to the newly created National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE).

1995

ABC begins requiring an NCOPE residency to obtain certification as an orthotist and/or prosthetist.

2002

The ABC Board unanimously votes to create orthotic and mastectomy fitter credentialing programs.

2004

ABC creates OandPCare.org website as a public service and resource for patients, caregivers and public at large.

2006

ABC adds the therapeutic shoe fitter credentialing program for providers of non-custom diabetic footwear and inserts.

2007

On January 1, the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP) is integrated into ABC. This integration brings along a new name, the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics, Inc., and more than 2,500 certified pedorthists.

2009

The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) awards ABC and NCOPE Category I recognition, the highest international education standard. ABC is still the only credentialing body in the U.S. to receive Category I recognition from ISPO.

2009

ABC fulfills CMS mandatory accreditation deadline for all post-mastectomy, durable medical equipment and pedorthic facilities.

2010

With ABC’s support, NCOPE revises the orthotic and prosthetic education standards, raising the minimum education level for the profession to a master’s degree. 

2013

ABC establishes a Central Fabrication Accreditation program to ensure that the entire continuum of care is represented by ABC accreditation programs.

2015

ABC introduces Digital Badges as the newest method for credential holders to communicate their achievements and capability on social media, emails, websites and electronic resumes.

2018

ABC elects Deborah M. Plescia, CPO, as first female President of the Board of Directors.

2019

ABC updates its logo to reflect a current and modern profession.

"The new logo provides a fresh look for a 70-year-old standard bearer. It represents our ability to embrace the need for change while still honoring the past.” - Deborah M. Plescia, CPO, 2018 Board President.

Learn More About ABC

Latest AbC NEWS

2021 OPERF/ABC Student and Resident Award Recipients Announced

OPERF and ABC are proud to announce the recipients of the 2021 OPERF/ABC Student Award for Academic Achievement and Resident Travel Award. Congratulations to these outstanding students and residents!

Important Dates

Amputee Coalition Virtual National Conference September 29 - October 3 Annual conference of the Coalition for those with limb differences