Founder Ernest M. Burgess, M.D.
Seattle-based orthopedic surgeon Ernest M. Burgess, M.D., (1911-2000) founded the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation in 1989 to help alleviate the suffering of amputees worldwide. Dr. Burgess first became interested in the rehabilitation of amputees while serving as an Army surgeon in the Pacific Theater during World War II. His service there inspired him to develop new surgical and rehabilitation techniques to improve post-operative quality of life for amputees. For years, he treated U.S. veterans from Korea and Vietnam. He also performed surgeries in S.E. Asian countries, throughout Africa, and behind the “Iron Curtain”. He also helped Children’s Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, Washington, to become one of the first hospitals in the United States to handle the prosthetic needs of young children.
In 1964, at the request of the Veterans Administration (VA), Dr. Burgess began the Prosthetics Research Study (PRS). PRS research led to the development of the Seattle Foot in 1985, which earned Dr. Burgess a U.S. Presidential Design Award. In March of 2000, Senator Robert Kerrey submitted a resolution to the United States Senate commending Dr. Burgess for “a life devoted to providing care and service to his fellow man.”
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In 1989, Dr. Burgess established Prosthetics Outreach Foundation (POF) for the specific mission of bringing modern prosthetic services to amputees in the developing world. Initially, Dr. Burgess’s desire was to contribute to healing the wounds of war that remained in Vietnam. However, he quickly saw the larger need for prosthetic assistance to men, women and children around the globe whose limbs have been taken by war, landmines, accidents, and other tragedies. With this vision in mind, POF was born.
Just a year later, the first prosthetics clinic in Vietnam was opened. POF soon responded to calls for prosthetic assistance in the Philippines, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka. POF has also established prosthetics and orthotics (p&o) centers in Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, and Haiti and founded clubfoot programs in Vietnam and Sierra Leone.