Prosthetics and Orthotics
Prosthetic and orthotic technicians and practitioners work in a highly technical field where they design and create devices that assist people with a disability or deformity. If you're looking for a career that gives you the opportunity to help people in a tangible way, this might be a good fit for you.
Inside Prosthetics and Orthotics
Prosthetics and orthotics are devices that help people who have a deformity or disability of a limb to live a more functional and comfortable life. Prosthetics are artificial replacements for body parts, whereas orthotics correct the alignment of a patient's foot and ankle. Orthotists and prosthetists are trained practitioners who first evaluate patients and their needs by interviewing them about their expectations of devices and taking measurements to ensure proper fit. They work with orthotic and prosthetic technicians to construct devices to exact specifications, then assess the final fit of the brace or prostheses on the patient and educate the patient about proper use and care of the device.
The National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education approves undergraduate certificate and associate degree programs to prepare students to become orthotic and prosthetic technicians. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredits several bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate and master's degree programs for aspiring orthotic and prosthetic practitioners. Bachelor's and master's degree holders wishing to practice must complete a residency program for each type of device in which they wish to specialize. These residency programs vary in their requirements and encompass the treatment of pediatric, adult and geriatric patients. Certification for practitioners and technicians is available from the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics after completion of an approved training program and requisite experience (www.abcop.org).
Technicians work primarily in laboratories, developing, constructing and repairing prosthetic and orthotic devices. Prosthetic and orthotic practitioners divide their time between exam rooms and the lab. Today's prosthetists and orthotists have some of the most advanced technology at their disposal. For example, computer-aided design and manufacturing programs can digitally scan and carve custom devices for patients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prosthetic and orthotic practitioners made a median annual salary of $65,060, and medical appliance technicians (which include orthotic and prosthetic device technicians) earned a median wage of $35,670 as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov).
Learn More About Prosthetics and Orthotics
Prosthetics and orthotics help people who have a injury or disability to live more normal lives. If you'd like to become an orthotic or prosthetic practitioner or technician, Education-Portal.com has more information available about academic programs and career options.
The type of degree you earn determines the extent of your patient interaction in the field of orthotics and prosthetics. You can qualify to become a technician with an associate degree or undergraduate certificate. Practitioners must earn at least a bachelor's degree before beginning a residency program.
- Hybrid Prosthetics Programs
- Selecting an Orthotics or Prosthetics Program
- Bachelor's Degree and Postbaccalaureate Certificate Programs
- Degree Programs in Prosthetics
Orthotist Career Information
An orthotist designs and creates orthotic shoe inserts or orthopedic braces that help to align a patient's foot and ankle. Orthotists work closely with orthopedists and podiatrists.
Prosthetist Career Information
Prosthetists primarily design and create devices that replace missing or deformed body parts. Due to the unique nature of each patient's disability, prosthetists' work is very hands-on and requires detailed specificity.
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