Ottobock UK celebrates 40 years in the business

Where it began

Ottobock was founded in Berlin in 1919 by prosthetist Otto Bock in order to supply victims of the world war with prostheses and orthopaedic devices. Traditional methods of craftsmanship could not meet the demands and so, Otto realised his idea to produce prosthetic components in series and deliver them directly to prosthetists on site. The Ottobock name now stands for high-quality and technologically outstanding products and services. 

The origins of Ottobock UK

The Ottobock UK headquarters was built on the site of an old petrol station. Over time it was refurbished, modernised and extended to become what is still Ottobock UK’s headquarters.

Operations in the UK started in August of 1976. Back then, it was known as Otto Bock Orthopaedic (UK) Ltd. In that first year turnover was just £96,000.

By 1992, it was time to expand and Ottobock purchased the neighbouring house called Torphins. It was demolished and the office was extended. It could be thought that due to the expansion, Ottobock UK at that point had a large workforce but the growth was modest with just 14 employees at that time. 

In January 1996, the company saw a rebrand and became Ottobock UK Ltd. This was followed by another rebrand in August 2002 and became what is now the trading name of Ottobock UK, Ottobock Healthcare PLC.

Ottobock UK currently has a workforce of over 250 and continues to grow.

Supporting those living with a disability

Ottobock UK’s ambassadors help to inspire others who have been through a similar situation and show that life is what you make it. Graham Smith and Gillian McBain both tell their moving stories which you can see on the Ottobock UK You Tube channel. 

Many of Ottobock’s wonderful and inspirational ambassadors such as Megan Giglia, Andy Lewis and Sammi Kinghorn will be at this year’s Paralympic Games displaying their skills, determination and courage. Providing hope to those who want to remain active and showing that you can achieve your dreams and fulfil your aspirations with a little help a boatload of fortitude and tenacity.

Ottobock has been promoting sports for people with a disability for more than three decades and has provided technical service at the Paralympic Games since 1988 and the Invictus Games since its inception in 2014. Ottobock UK is proud to have its colleagues be a part of the team whose expertise, experience and support is relied on by athletes and their teams from all over the world. 

Key milestones

In 1969, Ottobock invented the adjustable connecting element. These elements permits static corrections and allows components to be exchanged and are today's standard in fitting amputees with modular lower limb prostheses (where the prosthetic foot, knee joint and socket are connected to each other by special adapters). The key patent is a true milestone that changed leg prosthesis fittings around the world. 

In 1997, delivering on the company’ ethos and vision of providing solutions that improve the mobility of people with disabilities through innovative products that restore and aid mobility — Ottobock launched the world's first completely microprocessor-controlled lower limb prosthesis solution — the C-Leg. It was a revolutionary product that raised the bar on what can be offered to amputees.

Louise Tait, the UK’s first ever C-Leg patient, became an above knee amputee in 1987 and had problems finding a socket that fit due to the shape of her stump, she was later fitted with the innovative prosthesis. She thanks the microprocessor knee (MPK) for allowing her to lead a life where she feels stable, does not have to worry about the function of her leg and has the confidence to tackle everyday situations. 

Louise said, “Following the launch of the C-Leg, I was lucky enough to be the first person in the UK to try it out. I have been using a C-Leg for 15 years since its launch in the UK in 1999. Finding a knee that you trust builds confidence so everyday activities become more natural. You use less time and energy thinking about where you are stepping and more time just getting on with life.

With ground-breaking products like Genium X3, the only waterproof and the world's most technologically advanced prosthetic leg. The eSupport, the first power assist that amplifies the energy that is put into it. In the field of neurostimulation, Ottobock’s MyGait one of the best and most customisable solutions for drop foot and gait rehabilitation available with its second channel and is the slimmest FES cuff available in the market. As well as the C-Brace, the only computer controlled orthosis, another world’s first that brought the prosthetic world into the field of orthotics. Ottobock is proud to lead the way and continues to set new standards in the care of people with disabilities.

Expansion

Over the years, Ottobock acquired a number of organisations that has helped to build on the quality services provided. This includes the Scandinavian Group LIC and Masser Surgical Appliances Ltd. Masser, was a well-known provider of orthotic services and has now become the site where Ottobock manufactures its new range of Orthotic and Prosthetic Bars and Joints systems which has brought 21st century design to the orthotics market. 

Further developing the quality care and service provide by Ottobock, the Minworth Orthotic Service Fab and Private patient Facilities was conceived and is where many of the custom orthoses are created. Building on that Special Seating based in Leeds was created. Since then it has increased its site size and expanded taking on what was formerly known as Vacuum a former in house upholstery manufacturer. 

The acquisition of Dorset Orthopaedic has meant that Ottobock can also provide the patient care it is synonymous with across the globe to its UK patients. 

More recently, Ottobock took on Scope Rehab Healthcare providing Ottobock with a facility in the south of Ireland, extending its clinical reach across Ireland. Also in Ireland, Ottobock partnered up with Medifix Services, building on its capabilities to supply and service the Irish market with quality mobility products and is now known as Medifix Healthcare Ltd.

Philip Yates, Ottobock Managing Director, said:

“We are delighted to celebrate 40 years of service. This is a huge milestone for Ottobock UK. We have seen important and pioneering innovations throughout the years from the expansion of the services and care we offer, to the pioneering products like the introduction of the C-Leg, which revolutionised the prosthetics industry and has changed many people’s lives with its state of the art functions. So it’s no surprise that it is the most popular MPK to date having sold over 60,000 units. Ottobock is also very grateful to the talented Prosthetists and dedicated patients who have helped the development of the technology across the years.

“We will continue to provide the quality products and services that help people reclaim their independence and look forward to another 40 years of growth and innovation.”

For more information on Ottobock’s range of innovative solutions that restore mobility please visit www.ottobock.co.uk or follow @ottobockuk

Ottobock are exhibiting at the event next June - view their exhibitor page here.