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Orthotists and Prosthetists

Those unfamiliar with the orthotics and prosthetics industry are probably unaware of the technological improvements constantly being made in this field. Materials and technological improvements are making it possible for disabled individuals to live independently and enjoy the activities they participated in prior to becoming disabled.

Custom built and fitted orthoses and prostheses must be designed to handle a lot of weight but be light enough to remain comfortable for the individual wearing them. In fact, many materials utilized in these devices were originally designed for aerospace uses. Technological improvements, such as computer imaging and electronic knees, continue to make life for people relying on orthotics and prosthetics devices easier.

Orthotics and Prosthetics specialists examine, evaluate, manufacture, and custom fit orthopedic devices and artificial limbs. These specialists are classified as allied health workers. Specialists in this field can find exciting opportunities as orthotics and prosthetics technicians, fitters, assistants, and pedorthists.

The following are specialists within the field of orthotics and prosthetics:
  • Pedorthists – modify various types of footwear to help patients improve mobility.
  • Certified fitters – fit and modify therapeutic shoe fitters, breast prostheses, and prefabricated orthotic devices.
  • Registered technicians – collaborate with other O&P specialists to fit, fabricate, and fix orthotic and prosthetic equipment. They do not work directly with patients.
  • Registered assistants – assist O&P specialists with various tasks.
Education and Training
Those interested in this field have the option of choosing between associate’s, bachelor’s, or apprenticeship programs. It typically takes 3-4 years to complete an apprenticeship program.

Completing a bachelor's program in orthotics and prosthetics, or a major related to this field, in addition to a professional certificate program, will adequately prepare students to assist patients are serve on rehabilitation teams with physical and occupational therapists, nurses, doctors, and other medical specialists. Students enrolled in these programs will learn about materials and health science and measurement and fabrication techniques. The following is a list of classes most orthotics and prosthetics will be required to complete:
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Orthotics
  • Prosthetics
  • Materials Technology
  • Mechanics
  • Drafting
  • Mechanical Engineering
Job Outlook
Aging populations and war related injuries are increasing demand for orthotics and prosthetics specialists. Likewise, high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health disorders are also increasing demand for these specialists nationwide.

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