What Is an Orthotic and Prosthetics Specialist?

Orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) professionals fit artificial limbs, braces or other medical equipment to help people with mobility impairments. Their patients may be missing a body part due to accidents, combat injuries, birth defects or disease. Their work is often performed by physicians, therapists or other health care workers.

How to Tell the Difference Between Orthotics and Prosthetics


Although many people confuse the terms, there is a difference. Unlike the devices that they mistake for one another, which are often interchangeable in the public eye, orthotics and torticollis baby helmet prosthetics have specific designs and functions.


An orthotic is a device that supports and corrects an existing problem or defect in a limb, arm, hand, head or spine. It’s used to prevent injury, reduce pain, and improve function, comfort and appearance.


The most common orthotic devices include braces, such as ankle foot orthoses, or AFOs; spinal support systems, like scoliosis braces; and insoles for feet. The design of the device and the materials that are used determine its strength, durability and function.

How to Become an Orthotist and Prosthetist


Individuals who want to become orthotists and prosthetists need to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. They also need to complete a postsecondary education program that is accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. After completing their education, they need to complete an internship or residency in order to receive certification.


Professionals in the field are able to practice in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practices, schools and other facilities. Some specialize in a certain area of the industry, such as pediatrics or sports medicine.


O&P specialists are highly trained and educated, so they can work with patients to help them achieve their goals for mobility. They are skilled in movement science, biomechanics, materials science, engineering, behavioral sciences and rehabilitation technologies.


Prosthetics company in Philadelphia are able to assess and evaluate a patient’s needs and then create a treatment plan that is customized to their specific needs. They are also able to select the most appropriate design, materials and components to ensure that the devices they create will be strong, durable and functional for their patients.


The profession of orthotics and prosthetics is growing faster than average, and it is expected to remain so in the future. This is because more and more people lose limbs or suffer orthopedic impairments, so more and more people will need to be fitted with a device.


Several colleges and universities offer degrees in this field, including Baylor College of Medicine, which offers an undergraduate degree in orthotics and prosthetics within its School of Health Professions. The program’s faculty, which is aligned with one of the nation’s highest-ranked medical schools and graduate schools of biomedical sciences, is committed to educating leading O&P professionals who will help people with disabilities.


The profession is currently growing at a faster rate than the average for all occupations, and there is a shortage of practitioners to meet the demands of patients. This is why it’s important to consider becoming an O&P specialist. Learn more about prosthetics at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosthesis.

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