Schools with Orthotics and Prosthetics Programs: How to Choose
Orthotic and prosthetic programs focus on conceptualizing, creating, fitting and measuring of braces meant to correct the body and artificial limbs. Certificate programs, associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs are available throughout the U.S. in orthotics and prosthetics.
How to Select an Orthotic and Prosthetic School
Students are encouraged to review the regulations of their individual states in order to enroll in appropriate programs. Bachelor's degree and post-baccalaureate certificate programs may be the standard of the industry for practitioners, but associate degree programs also exist that lead to technician postitions. As of 2012 the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education may stop accrediting new bachelor's degree and certificate programs, making master's degree programs the industry standard, and graduate programs are currently available.
Schools with on-site orthotic and prosthetic facilities could be useful and could give students the opportunity to gain a greater amount of hands-on experience. Students may choose to enroll in 2+2 or 3+1 bachelor's degree programs, which divide the general education requirements and the clinical learning experiences at on or off-site facilities.
Students interested specifically in orthotics or in prosthetics may enroll in programs that favor one over the other, or that instructs solely in one category. Certificate programs are available in only orthotics or only prosthetics, and may be more in-depth or take less time to complete as a result. Programs offering the study of both disciplines are widely available, though students may be required to enroll in two separate post-graduate residency programs for certification.
Programs that are offered part-time or at night may be preferable to students enrolling in continuing education programs. Certificate and master's degree programs may offer the greatest amount of flexibility.
Orthotic and Prosthetic Program Overviews
Associate Degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics
Associate degree programs in orthotics and prosthetics may qualify students for certification and entry-level employment and can be completed in two years. General education courses can transfer to bachelor's degree programs and internship opportunities may be available. Coursework can include upper and lower extremity prosthetics and orthotic bracing of legs, arms, spine and neck.
Bachelor's Degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics
Bachelor's degree programs in orthotics and prosthetics can be completed in four years and qualify students for residency programs as well as certification and employment. Upper and lower extremity prosthetics are studies, as well as upper and lower extremity orthotic braces.
Certificate in Orthotics or Prosthetics
Certificate programs in orthotics and prosthetics are generally offered as post-baccalaureate programs, focus only on prosthetics or orthotics, and may be completed in 1-2 years or less. Clinical experiences are typically required at this level. Coursework commonly includes the development of prosthetics for upper extremities, lower extremities and the spine, or orthotics for below the knee, above the knee or upper limbs.
Master's Degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics
Master's degree programs may allow students to study not only the practical applications of orthotics and prosthetics, but research and theoretical concepts behind them as well. Coursework in biostatistics, advanced physiology, kinesiology, neuroanatomy and physics may be offered in addition to the study of specific orthotic and prosthetic development.
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