The origin of American Prosthetics & Orthotics Inc. (APO) dates back to 1958 when Ron Cheney, CPO, began his career in the Des Moines office of the Minnesota-based Winkley Artificial Limb Co.
Winkley spun off several of its branches in 1964, including Iowa, and sold them to Bob Gruman and John Hendrickson of the firm, American Prosthetics. Branch offices included Minneapolis, Buffalo, N.Y., LaCrosse, Wis., Wichita, Des Moines, Davenport, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In 1972, Cheney along with Rollie Daniels, Harold Miller and Bob Buffington had an opportunity to purchase Davenport, Des Moines, Fort Lauderdale, and Buffalo. They retained the name American Prosthetics. Eventually, the Fort Lauderdale office was closed and the Buffalo office sold to another company.
After Buffington’s death, Cheney and Miller became owners in 1979, purchasing Daniels’ shares. When Harold Miller passed in 1988, Ron Cheney became the sole owner. In 1998, American Prosthetics changes its name to American Prosthetics and Orthotics, reflecting the expanded services of the company.
From early on, Ron was committed to making APO the best. He built a strong company with an outstanding, clinically-experienced staff and embraced the latest in technology and manufacturing equipment. Although many technologies come from the major manufacturers, the prosthetist-orthotist also has to be creative when meeting the unique needs of a patient. An example of this was in the 1970s when APO practitioners Don Shurr, CPO, PT, and Harold Miller, CPO, designed the Iowa Knee Orthosis, a custom-made device that provides maximum support while allowing a relatively normal amount of flexion above the lax knee joint. A clinical paper published by Shurr, Miller, John Albright M.D., and Harley Feldick, M.D., from the University of Iowa, outlined its effectiveness.
Shurr also co-authored “Prosthetics and Orthotics,” (2006), an educational volume for therapists, nurses, and physicians.
A Snapshot of Growth and Change
- The Des Moines office was a merger between Palm Orthopedic Appliance Company and American Prosthetics. In June 1965, the two businesses moved to the 2733 6th St. location where it remained until the flood of 1993. After remodeling, the office remained open for two more years.
- In 1988 the Plaza office was open at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Prior to that, the Des Moines staff had commuted to Younker Rehabilitation Center seeing patients daily since the early 1960s. At Younker, the staff worked with Dr. William DeGravelles, a pioneer in Physical Medicine and Rehab, seeing polio patients from around the world. Dr. DeGravelles was a polio patient himself.
- In 1995, APO built its current corporate/patient care facility at 1250 NW 142nd St. in Clive. The building encompasses 18,000 square feet.
Iowa City/University of Iowa
- The Des Moines staff begins a relationship with the University of Iowa VA Clinics in 1968.
- In 1970, the Muscatine Avenue office is opened.
- In 1985, APO leases space for an office at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
- In 2009, APO opened a clinic at the University of Iowa Sports Medicine Center. As part of Iowa’s only comprehensive academic medical center, APO and the Center’s faculty and staff are providing high-quality orthopaedics, sports medicine, imaging, and rehabilitation services.
- The Davenport office had several locations throughout the years including Rockingham Road, Kimball Avenue, and Lombard Avenue, before its current location at West Central Avenue (Genesis Medical Center-West).
- Satellite offices opened in Burlington in 1996 and in Moline in 2013.
- In 2009, the Quad City offices were served by a new fabrication facility at 581 East 53rd St.
- The Ames office, a full-service facility opened in 2014. Among the prosthetic services available are prosthetic consultations, immediate post-surgical dressings, lower-limb prostheses, partial-foot prostheses, and upper-limb prostheses (body powered and myolectric). Orthotic services available include orthotic consultations, lower-limb orthoses, custom shoes, foot orthoses, fracture orthoses, upper-limb orthoses, and post-surgical spinal orthoses.
Today APO employs more than 70 full-time employees, including two dozen certified and licensed orthotists, prosthetists, and pedorthists. APO also maintains a strong residency program, welcoming prosthetic and orthotic program graduates as residents, working under the tutelage of certified professionals. APO is an approved Resident Facility by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE).
Two generations of the Cheney family are experienced clinicians. Gary Cheney, CPO, LPO, FAAOP, Ron’s brother, is Director of Compliance and Patient Services. He specializes in lower-extremity prosthetics. Rod Cheney, CPO, LPO, Ron’s son, is Executive Vice President and oversees operations. Brent Cheney, CO, LO, also Ron’s son, is Director of Material Management. Ron’s wife, Rikki, is Director of Internal Affairs.