The Early Years
It was at sea during World War II aboard the USS Sepulga, that Lt. Al Muilenburg saw the need for improved artificial limbs, which at the time were made from wood, leather, or steel and secured by cumbersome belts and buckles. After he was honorably discharged from the Navy, Al and Loretta returned to their home state of Minnesota and Al joined the Minnesota Artificial Limb Co. while he continued with postgraduate studies in orthotics and prosthetics.
In 1948, Al and Loretta relocated to Houston to establish their own practice. At first, Al and Loretta lived in the back of their home on Hathaway Street while patients were seen in the front. Fabrication took place in the adjacent garage and sockets were dried in the kitchen oven.
Although the early years were lean, returning wounded veterans sparked a growth in technology and the Muilenburg team grew with it. Al built up the practice and became a provider to TIRR (Texas Institute for Rehabilitation & Research) and Shriners Hospital for Children – Houston. In 1950, the facility moved to its current location at 3900 LaBranch St.
Professional Certification and Advancing Standards
Al became a certified prosthetist/orthotist (CPO) when practitioner education was just beginning. In 1948, the American Board for Certification in Orthotics & Prosthetics (ABC) was started to set minimum standards for the education of practitioners and to test their clinical knowledge. Al was the 16th practitioner in the first class to be nationally accredited in both orthotics and prosthetics by the ABC.
Al made many contributions to his profession, advancing prosthetic education and practitioner standards through participation in professional organizations. Following WWII, he served on the National Research Council Committee on Prosthetics and Orthotics Research and Development. With E. Bennett Wilson, executive director of the National Research Council on Prosthetics and Orthotics, Al wrote “A Manual for Above Knee Amputees” and “A Manual for Below the Knee Amputees.” He was an instructor in the prosthetics program at UCLA and was a clinical associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He also served as a prosthetics consultant at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Shriners Hospital.
In 1968, he was president of the American Orthotics and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) and was a director of the ABC and a fellow of the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO).
The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP) selected him for its Distinguished Practitioner Award in 1992 and in 1995, the Titus Ferguson Award, the Academy’s highest honor. In 1998, he received a Lifetime Achievement award from AOPA. In June of 2000, the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists named its top student research award after him.
Al Muilenburg passed away in July 2005 at the age of 85 and Loretta has retired from the business. Ted Muilenburg, who joined the company in 1978, is the owner and president.
Committed to Providing Excellent Patient Care
Under Ted’s leadership, MPI continues to facilitate high standards of patient care. MPI practitioners have earned advanced degrees in their chosen profession and attend continuing education programs to maintain their board certification. Through professional seminars and scientific symposiums, practitioners stay current with complex technology, improved materials, and refinements in fabrication techniques that constitute today’s varied selection of prosthetic devices. Ted and his team are certified in microprocessor-controlled knees and feet, myoelectric arms, bionic hands, and other high-tech componentry.
Ted is a prosthetic consultant for TIRR Memorial Hermann Lower Limb Clinic and consulted for the Limb Deficiency Clinic at Shriners Hospital. He has lectured in the therapy programs at Texas Woman’s University and the University of Texas Medical Branch.
To help patients of all ages adjust to their new circumstances. MPI has produced videos and handbooks, and hosted and participated in a variety of amputee clinics including golf, running, wheelchair tournaments, and other sporting events to help patients learn that their lives aren’t over – just different. Ted also accompanies his upper limb loss patients to the triennial Skills for Life conference, of which MPI is a sponsor.
MPI is proud of its record of service and the number of amputees the company has helped to lead rich and productive lives. As the field continues to evolve, MPI will continue to evolve with it to help prosthetic patients live their lives to the fullest.