Hanger, Inc.

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Hanger, Inc.
Type Public
Traded as NYSEHGR
Predecessor(s) Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc.
Headquarters Austin, Texas, United States
Website www.hanger.com

Hanger, Inc. provides prosthetic and orthotic products and patient care services in the United States.[1] The company has more than 700 patient care clinics[2] located in 45 states and the District of Columbia. More than 1 million patients[2] visit these clinics each year. Hanger Clinic operates under the corporate umbrella of Hanger, Inc., headquartered in Austin, Texas (formerly Bethesda, Maryland). According to the company's 2007 annual report, the patient care market for prosthetic and orthotic services in the United States is estimated at $2.5 billion annually. Hanger Clinic represents about 25 percent of this market.[3] Hanger, Inc. employs about 4,700 people, including more than 1,080 prosthetic and orthotic clinicians.

Notable Hanger patients include:

  • Jeremy Campbell, winner of two gold medals in the 2008 Paralympic Games, and world-record holder for the Pentathlon P44 [4]
  • Retired Staff Sgt. Heath Calhoun, veteran of the Iraq War, spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project, and key advocate in the passage of federal Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) payments to assist wounded American soldiers and their families.[5]
  • Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who became famous in May 2003 when he amputated his lower right arm with a dull knife in order to free himself from a fallen boulder; his story is featured in the 2010 movie 127 Hours.
  • Warren Macdonald, an Australian mountain climber who lost both legs after a giant boulder fell on him. His story is told in his autobiography, A Test of Will, and in Discovery Channel's program I Shouldn't Be Alive.
  • Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap; her story is featured in the 2009 book Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again and in the 2011 movie Dolphin Tale.


James Edward Hanger, the first documented amputee of the American Civil War, founded the company in Virginia in 1861.[6]

A remark in Ambrose Bierce's postwar memoir that "We shot off a Confederate leg at Philippi" refers to Hanger.[7] At 18 years of age, Hanger joined the Confederate cavalry at Philippi, Virginia, on June 2, 1861. One day later, during the Battle of Philippi, Hanger was sheltering inside a stable with the rest of the Churchville (Virginia) Cavalry when the "first solid Union cannon shot of the war" bounced into the stable and struck his leg. The injury required amputation of Hanger's leg above the knee, and he underwent the first battlefield amputation of the war, at the hands of Union surgeons.[7] Hanger returned to his parent's home to recuperate wearing a prosthesis that was basically a wooden peg. His dissatisfaction with the fit and function of the limb replacement led Hanger to design and construct a new prosthesis from whittled barrel staves, rubber and wood, with hinges at the knee and foot. The device worked well, and the state legislature commissioned him to manufacture the “Hanger Limb” for other wounded soldiers.[8]

Manufacturing operations for J.E. Hanger, Inc. were established in the cities of Staunton and Richmond, Virginia. Hanger was awarded his first patent for an artificial limb, number 155, from the United States Patent Office on March 23, 1863.[9] Over the years Hanger developed and patented additional products for veterans and other amputees. In 1906, Hanger moved the company’s headquarters to Washington, DC. In 1915, he traveled to Europe to help World War I amputees and to learn from European prosthetists.

Hanger’s five sons were active in operating the family business. In 1915, they divided J.E. Hanger, Inc., into four separate companies, with each operating in a different region of the country. At the time of Hanger’s death in 1919, the companies had branches in Atlanta, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, London and Paris.[8]

Significant technological advances in the U.S. prosthetic industry were largely absent in the years leading up to World War II. The new wave of amputee veterans demanded better prosthetic options, and in 1946 the federal government began providing funds for research and development in prosthetics. J.E. Hanger, Inc. was able to introduce new prosthetic socket designs made from improved materials such as thermosetting resins.

Also around this time, the orthotics industry (braces /supports) sought to combine with the prosthetics industry. In 1950, the American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association was formed, and with that came a new emphasis on the education and certification of clinical practitioners. By the mid 1950s, J.E.Hanger, Inc., had added orthotic services to its business, and had expanded to 50 offices in the U.S. and 25 in Europe.[1]

The 1960s and 70s held relatively few technological improvements, but the 1980s marked the beginning of a period of advanced technological development that continues to the present day. In 1986, Sequel Corporation, a Colorado-based communications company, sold off its cellular phone business and began investing in the orthotics and prosthetics industry. In 1989, Sequel bought J. E. Hanger, Inc., of Washington, DC. At the time of purchase, J. E. Hanger, Inc., was an $8 million business with offices in 11 cities and eight states. Soon after, Sequel changed the name of the company to the Hanger Orthopedic Group. Ivan Sabel, president and chief operating officer, was focused on centralizing the design and manufacturing of the company's prosthetic and orthotic devices and distributing them nationally.[1]

In 1996, the company bought J. E. Hanger, Inc., of Georgia. This acquisition doubled the size of the company, which now had 175 patient care centers, six distribution sites, four manufacturing plants and 1,000 employees in 30 states. Hanger continued purchasing small companies and by 1998, was operating 256 patient care centers. In 1999, Hanger Orthopedic Group bought its biggest competitor and the industry leader, the orthotics and prosthetics division of NovaCare. This added an additional 369 patient care centers. In 1999, Fortune magazine ranked Hanger Orthopedic Group as 79th on its list of One Hundred Fastest-Growing Companies.[10] Following the NovaCare acquisition, the company continued to expand its corporate holdings with related specialty businesses.


Hanger Inc. is composed of four wholly owned subsidiaries that serve different segments of the orthotics and prosthetics industry. In addition to Hanger Clinic, holdings include Southern Prosthetic Supply, Innovative Neurotronics and Linkia.

Southern Prosthetic Supply (SPS) is the largest distributor of orthotic and prosthetic materials in the world.[citation needed] SPS has four distribution centers and 270,000 products offerings.

Innovative Neurotronics, Inc., specializes in the development and commercialization of emerging neuromuscular technologies. Neuromuscular refers to the use of electrical stimulation to improve the functionality of an impaired extremity.

Linkia is a network management company that works exclusively with the orthotics and prosthetics industry.


Hanger, Inc. has several patented technologies, including:

  • ComfortFlex Socket System for upper and lower extremity prosthetic users.
  • Insignia laser scanning system, a handheld laser scanner that connects to a laptop computer and is used to scan the limb in order to create a prosthetic socket or an orthotic support and/or brace.[11]
  • V-Hold vacuum suction technology, a prosthetic socket with a vacuum pump, for below/above knee prosthetic patients.
  • WalkAide system, a medical device for people suffering from foot drop. (Foot drop can be caused by multiple sclerosis (MS), incomplete spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, cerebral palsy, stroke, and other neurological involvements.)[12]
  • WintersGel liner, a silicone-based prosthetic liner used to attach prosthetic limbs to patients; the liner is based on Hanger's research with, and named for, Winter, the amputee dolphin from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.[13]


Employees of the company are editors and contributing authors of textbooks such as Prosthetics and patient management: a comprehensive clinical approach,[14] Functional Restoration of Adults and Children with Upper Extremity Amputation,[15] and Physical medicine and rehabilitation: principles and practice.[16]

Legal problems[edit]

In 2004, allegations of billing fraud were made against the company when an office administrator reported Hanger employees in New York for forging false prescriptions for non existent patients.[17] A class action lawsuit was brought against Hanger for allegedly using the fraud to artificially raise stock prices.[18] Although 14 offices were named in the lawsuit, Hanger said that only one location was involved in the fraud.[19]

As of September 16, 2009, based upon communications with the US Attorney's Office, it is Hanger's understanding that the US Attorney's Office will not file any criminal charges or pursue any False Claims Act remedies against the company related to the alleged billing discrepancies.[20]


  1. ^ a b c "Hanger, Inc.". Funding Universe Company Histories. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Hanger Annual Report 2011". Hanger Clinic. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  3. ^ Plunkett, Jack W., Plunkett's Health Care Industry Almanac 2009, page 391, Plunkett Research Ltd., Dallas, TX, ISBN 1-59392-132-2, ISBN 978-1-59392-132-3.
  4. ^ "Jeremy Campbell". 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  5. ^ "SSgt. Heath Calhoun". Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  6. ^ Robert J. Driver, Virginia Regimental History Series, 14th Virginia Cavalry, published 1988 by E. E. Howard Inc., Pge 131.
  7. ^ a b Roy Morris (1998). Ambrose Bierce: alone in bad company (reprint ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 320. ISBN 0-19-512628-9.  pages 25-26
  8. ^ a b Mark C. Carnes, Edward L. Lach (2005). American National Biography Supplement 2 (reprint ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-19-522202-9. 
  9. ^ Dobyns, Kenneth W. (1994). "Appendix: Some Civil War Era Patents". The Patent Office pony: a history of the early Patent Office. Sergeant Kirkland's Museum and Historical Society. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-9632137-4-7. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  10. ^ Daniels, Cora; Lanning, Deirdre; Maroney, Tyler; Tarpley, Natasha (September 6, 1999). "Fortune's One Hundred Fastest-Growing Companies". Fortune Magazine. 
  11. ^ "Modern Technology Offering Better Solutions for Limb". The Baltimore Daily Record. March 8, 2004. Retrieved 2009-03-11.  (subscription required)
  12. ^ "WalkAide: Brain in a Box". ABC News. January 29, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  13. ^ "The Never Ending Tale of WintersGel". Hanger Inc. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  14. ^ Kevin Carroll and Joan E. Edelstein, ed. (2006). Prosthetics and patient management: a comprehensive clinical approach. SLACK Incorporated. p. 266. ISBN 1-55642-671-2. 
  15. ^ Robert Henry Meier and Diane J. Atkins, ed. (2004). Functional Restoration of Adults and Children with Upper Extremity Amputation. Demos Medical Publishing, LLC. p. 380. ISBN 1-888799-73-0. 
  16. ^ Joel A. DeLisa, Bruce M. Gans, Nicholas E. Walsh, William L. Bockenek, ed. (2004). Physical medicine and rehabilitation: principles and practice (4th ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 1926. ISBN 0-7817-4130-0. 
  17. ^ Wary Employee Questions Hanger Orthopedic Billing
  18. ^ Class-action suits filed against Hanger
  19. ^ Hanger's billing scam isolated to NY offices by Kathleen Johnston Jarboe, 8/11/2004, The Daily Record

External links[edit]