The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) was founded as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in 1970, in Copenhagen, Denmark. It grew out of the International Committee of Prosthetics and Orthotics of the International Society for Rehabilitation of the Disabled which was later to become Rehabilitation International. Knud Jansen, a well-respected orthopedic surgeon, chaired this Committee and was the principal driver behind the creation of ISPO.


On November 5 1970, Knud Jansen and 9-year old Ulla Andersen (stricken with polio at the age of six months) sign the official documents establishing ISPO


From the very beginning the Society was seen to be multidisciplinary with equal status for all the members regardless of profession, gender or race and its primary objective was to improve the rehabilitation of all people with physical disability requiring prosthetic, orthotic or some other technical aid.


ISPO's First Executive Board. Sitting left to right: D.S. McKenzie (England), Anthony Staros (USA), Knud Jansen (Denmark), George Murdoch (Scotland), A. Bennett-Wilson (USA). Standing: Jon Kjolbye (Denmark), Colin McLaurin (Canada), A. Mcquirk (England)


On the Society’s foundation it took over the editorship and responsibility for Prosthetics and Orthotics International (POI) which was formerly the journal of the International Committee on Prosthetics and Orthotics of the International Society for Rehabilitation of the Disabled. The currently-called ISPO eUpdate (ISPO International's official newsletter) was then the ISPO Bulletin (check here the first ever ISPO Bulletin).

From the early days, the Society had relationships with organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Rehabilitation International (RI). In the early 1980s the Society started to develop links with other international societies especially those involved in work in developing countries, such as the Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit (now Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Handicap International (HI).