Medical Appliance Technicians

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Also known as:
Arch-Support Maker, Brace Maker, Hearing Aid Repair Technician, Orthopaedic Technician, Orthopaedic Technologist, Orthotic Fabricator Technician, Orthotic Finish Grinding Technician, Orthotics Fitter, Orthotics Technician, Prosthetics Fabrication Technician

ABOUT MEDICAL APPLIANCE TECHNICIAN CAREERS
Video transcript

Medical appliance technicians combine a knowledge of human anatomy with math and power tools to create artificial limbs and braces. They work as assistants to orthotists and prosthetists, medical experts who use specially designed devices to help patients overcome a physical disability.

The technicians read prescriptions and detailed information about what the patient needs. They often work from a cast or impression of the limb as a pattern, taking careful measurements with precision instruments.

A wide variety of materials are using in a wearable medical appliance. Technicians use hand- or power tools to cut and shape. They glue, rivet, or weld the parts together. The final steps include smoothing the surfaces and perhaps padding or covering them.

The devices are then tested for proper alignment and movement, and may go back to the workbench for adjustment. Most technicians repair and maintain the appliances they make. Mathematically inclined high school graduates can get an entry level position in this field, as employers look for coursework in shop, geometry, and algebra.

Most medical appliance technicians learn their skills on the job. By continuing their formal education in this field, technicians may advance to becoming certified orthotists or prosthetists themselves. Appliance technicians are medical mechanics. The appliances they build help people achieve physical function and form as well as independence and productivity.

SNAPSHOT
Construct, maintain, or repair medical supportive devices such as braces, orthotics and prosthetic devices, joints, arch supports, and other surgical and medical appliances.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Take patients' body or limb measurements for use in device construction.

Service or repair machinery used in the fabrication of appliances.

Instruct patients in use of prosthetic or orthotic devices.

Cover or pad metal or plastic structures or devices, using coverings such as rubber, leather, felt, plastic, or fiberglass.

Drill and tap holes for rivets and glue, weld, bolt, or rivet parts together to form prosthetic or orthotic devices.

Fit appliances onto patients and make any necessary adjustments.

Lay out and mark dimensions of parts, using templates and precision measuring instruments.

Polish artificial limbs, braces, or supports, using grinding and buffing wheels.

Read prescriptions or specifications to determine the type of product or device to be fabricated and the materials and tools that will be required.

Test medical supportive devices for proper alignment, movement, or biomechanical stability, using meters and alignment fixtures.

Make orthotic or prosthetic devices, using materials such as thermoplastic and thermosetting materials, metal alloys and leather, and hand or power tools.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
TOP SKILLS
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Troubleshooting Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.