Orthotist & Prosthetist - Job Description, Duties, Education, Skills, Salary, & Growth

Orthotist & Prosthetist




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Job Description


The loss of a limb can occur from a number of reasons such as disease, combat injuries, accident, or even birth defects.

In order to help patients live more normal lives and achieve greater mobility, prosthetics (artificial limbs) and orthosis (braces) are provided by technicians known as orthotists and prosthetists.

These technicians are often referred to as O&P practitioners.

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Responsibilities

 

In performing their job O&P Practitioners will evaluate the patient’s needs as well as studying their gait, mobility, range of motion, and muscular development to help develop a plan to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Preparing an artificial limb or brace is a lengthy process and involves the O&P Practitioner taking measurements, preparing the limb for the prosthesis or brace, formulating the appliance, and helping to fit it once it is finished.

Working in association with Orthotists and Prosthetists are Pedorthists who will make or modify footwear to assist in regaining or improving mobility.

These specialists provide foot orthoses and shoes for this purpose. Other O&P practitioners provide breast prostheses after mastectomy, and footwear for diabetics.

O&Ps are helped as well by technicians who repair or manufacture prostheses, as well as certified technicians who assist with patient care.

The O&P field is often attractive to those who may have a need for these, or have a family member or friend who does.

There is a high level of career satisfaction associated with this profession when the benefits of these appliances is so obvious.

Advances in this field, including computer imaging, microprocessors, and myoelectric joints make the O&P career especially exciting.

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Skills

 

Science

Must know anatomy and how the human body works and moves so they can better solve the issues facing their patients.

Multitasking

The ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

Interpersonal

Must be able to interact with patients and their families regardless of background.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Communication

Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient's issues and convey to them the best path to treatment.

Empathy

Must be compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Patience

They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time. They also must help their clients have patience--especially if they are trying to overcome a difficult injury.

Problem Solving

Must be able to use knowledge to gauge issues and determine the best route to recovery.

Dexterity

Must work well with your hands and be nimble.

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Working Conditions

 

You will find O&P practitioners working in hospitals, laboratories, private practice, rehabilitation facilities, and clinics where the making, repair, and modification of these devices is done.

Orthotist and prosthetist practitioners are currently in high demand and the need for these technicians is expected to go even higher in the coming years.

Factors contributing to this need include an aging population, diabetes, and obesity. As with most medically related fields, the need for O&P technicians will continue to rise, with demand much in advance of supply.

 

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Salary Outlook

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