Orthotists and Prosthetists

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Also known as:
American Board Certified Orthotist, Artificial Limb Fitter, Certified Orthotic Fitter, Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist, Licensed Prosthetist, Orthotic/Prosthetic Practitioner, Orthotist, Pedorthist, Prosthetist

Video transcript

Fairly simple-looking plastic or metal components can make a huge difference in a disabled person's life. Designing and building these is the work of orthotists and prosthetists. These experts use art and science to help restore the human body to as normal function as possible.

Orthotists make and fit braces and appliances that help to align or support limbs prosthetists design and make artificial limbs. They usually work from doctors' prescriptions, but may also examine patients, taking measurements to make models and drawings.

They design mobility-restoring equipment ranging from corrective shoes and inserts to increasingly sophisticated artificial limbs. Though some of these workers make the appliances themselves, they usually send their designs to technicians to build the product.

The orthotists or prothetist shows the patient how to use the device, evaluating the fit and making adjustments. A good bedside manner goes a long way toward helping a patient gain confidence in a new appliance.

Orthotists and prosthetists must have a four-year college degree, complete a clinical residency and pass a national certification exam. Some states require a license. The job outlook in this field is excellent. It's particularly welcoming to people who have a disability of their own that requires an orthosis or prosthesis.

Schools and certification programs are particularly appreciative of real-life user experience. If you're looking for a truly hands-on job where knowledge and dedication can improve a patient's everyday life, a career as an orthotist or prosthetist could be the perfect fit.

Design, measure, fit, and adapt orthopedic braces, appliances or prostheses, such as limbs or facial parts for patients with disabling conditions.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Update skills and knowledge by attending conferences and seminars.

Research new ways to construct and use orthopedic and prosthetic devices.

Train and supervise support staff, such as orthopedic and prosthetic assistants and technicians.

Fit, test, and evaluate devices on patients, and make adjustments for proper fit, function, and comfort.

Make and modify plaster casts of areas that will be fitted with prostheses or orthoses, for use in the device construction process.

Construct and fabricate appliances or supervise others constructing the appliances.

Instruct patients in the use and care of orthoses and prostheses.

Select materials and components to be used, based on device design.

Design orthopedic and prosthetic devices, based on physicians' prescriptions and examination and measurement of patients.

Confer with physicians to formulate specifications and prescriptions for orthopedic or prosthetic devices.

Examine, interview, and measure patients to determine their appliance needs and to identify factors that could affect appliance fit.

Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
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.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
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.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
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.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
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.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.