Shadowing a DoctorDecember 18, 2014
- Job Description
- Education & Training
- Essential Skills, Qualities & Interests
- Job Opportunities & Job Prospects
Prosthetists and orthotists are two different specialties, but both are closely related and have several similarities. Both professionals provide treatment and care for individuals who may need an artificial limb (prosthesis) or some sort of device that helps control or support part of the body (orthosis).
A prosthesis is a devices that is specially designed to replace a missing body part. Prosthetists specialise in designing and fitting prostheses or artificial limbs to replace those that are missing at birth or lost through an accident or amputation.
An orthosis is a specially designed appliance that is fitted to an existing body part such as the spine or a limb to aid movement, relieve pain or prevent the worsening of an existing physical condition. Orthotists specialise in designing and fitting surgical devices or orthoses such as callipers, splints, braces and neck collars and splints to help support the spine or limbs. These devices may be worn temporarily or permanently depending on the patient’s condition.
The work that prothetists and orthotists do plays a huge part in the recovery of patients who might otherwise find physical movement difficult or even impossible.
If you have a keen interest in how the body works and you love working with your hands, then this could be the career for you.
Prosthetists and orthotists work with individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy or diabetes as well as patients recovering from a stroke and suffering from partial or complete mobility impairment.
In both fields, the main duties would include:
- Doing a thorough assessment of the patient’s requirements in order to determine what type of artificial limb or appliance needs to be fitted
- Taking exact measurements to design an appropriate prostheses or orthoses using computer modelling
- Explaining the finished design to a skilled technician, who will create the final product
- Ensuring that the prosthesis or orthosis is comfortable and functioning properly
- Carrying out follow-up checks with patients to see how they are faring with their device
- Carrying out necessary adjustments or repairs
As a Prosthetist-Orthotist you would work together with other healthcare professionals in hospitals, health centres and clinics. In particular you would work alongside physiotherapists, who would supervise the patient’s exercise regime and occupational therapists who would teach the patient how to perform daily activities using the artificial device.
Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to visit patients in their own homes.
Essential Skills, Qualities & Interests For Working This Field
This is a specialty that calls for a few very unique traits that you must have if you are considering practicing in this field.
To become a prosthetist or orthotist you must have:
- A keen interest in learning the minute details of how the human body works and moves
- Excellent problem solving skills
- Highly developed practical and technical skills
- Sensitivity to the needs of patients
- A creative mind to be able to design and produce innovative devices that meet your patient’s needs
- The ability to work well in a team
- Good communication skills
Over the past few years, strong IT skills have also become an essential skill as computer technology has becoming an increasingly crucial tool of the job.