Sepp Heim, former president of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) and a developer of international O&P educational programs, passed away in April at his home in Wangen, Germany. He was 84 years old. His O&P career spanned more than 60 years.
As a teenager, Heim worked at his father’s O&P facility in Berlin and later earned a German Master in Prosthetics and Orthotics. In 1966, Heim began working for a military hospital in Tunisia in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Welfare, which led to a position in 1970 with the former German Organization for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), and an assignment to build an orthopedic training center in Tunis. The center was based on the prosthetic training standards from the United Nations’ Holte Report that used a combination of practical experience and structured theoretical classroom-based study.
Heim’s work with GTZ established programs to provide formal O&P training in other developing countries: Togo (1974), Tanzania (1981), and Wuhan, China (1993). He is credited with having an instrumental role in establishing O&P programs in Pakistan, Vietnam, El Salvador, Morocco, and Armenia. In 1987, Heim became a director at the Federal School of Prosthetics and Orthotics in Dortmund, Germany.
Heim was ISPO president from 2001 to 2004 and served on its board, committees, planning groups, and courses for 40 years. “From the ISPO perspective, his dedication and commitment to the Society was second to none,” wrote Dan Blocka, BSc, CO(c), FCBC, in an announcement from ISPO. “ISPO in the bigger picture, is a better place for all the contributions [Heim] has made.”
Heim was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1986, the Golden Bull award of the People’s Republic of China in 1996, and the Georg Hohmann Medal of the German Orthopedics and Orthopedic Surgery in 2001.
He is survived by his wife, Imogen; sons Ekkehard, Winfried, and Joachim, and their families.