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Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Facts & Earnings Potential

Orthotics is the design and fabrication of braces and strengthening devices for patients with disabling conditions of the limbs or spine (such devices are technically called orthosis). Those requiring such devices include people with limbs or spines that have been affected by polio, stroke, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, congenital musculoskeletal disorders, fractures or other orthopedic impairment. Prosthetists are practitioners who design, fabricate and fit artificial limbs for patients who are missing part of all of their own limbs. The end goal of the prosthetist is a prosthesis, or artificial limb, that patients find functional, comfortable and aesthetically acceptable.

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Description

This is technical work in the fabrication, modification, maintenance and/or repair of braces, artificial limbs, and various rehabilitative support equipment and components. Work typically involves the use of a wide variety of tools, materials and equipment to construct or modify orthotic/prosthetic appliances to provide the optimal fit, function, and cosmetic appearance possible. Those with more experience and skill may design orthotic/prosthetic devices and fabricate complex devices. Because the fields of orthotics and prosthetics are so closely related, many prosthetists study orthotics and vice versa.

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Details

Tasks may include operating an assortment of tools and equipment to fabricate, modify or repair orthoses, prostheses, wheelchairs and associated rehabilitative support equipment in accordance with prescribed specifications. Orthotic and prosthetic technicians may also repair and modify shoes to compensate for certain podiatric disabilities as well as perform maintenance and/or minor repairs on tools and equipment and to ensure their optimum operational conditions. Advancing materials technology and an increasing demand for orthotic-prosthetic services has led to an increase in the amount of technical support needed.

Programs to Consider:

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Specializations

The American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, Inc. (ABC) registers orthotic-prosthetic technicians who meet specific requirements. To become certified, students must meet the following requirements: Complete a formal education program in orthotics or prosthetics and then pass the ABC's Technical Examination, or possess at least a high school education and a minimum of two years of work experience in the making of orthoses and/or prostheses under the supervision of a certified orthotist, certified prosthetist or certified prosthetist/orthotist and then pass the ABC's Technical Examination.

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Working Environment

Orthotists and prosthetists work in privately owned laboratories and facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, university teaching and research programs and government agencies.

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Required Training

Students learn how to make orthoses (braces and splints) and prostheses (artificial limbs), which are fitted to help rehabilitate disabled patients. It is a field in which new materials, techniques and controls create an increasing demand for technically competent people. There are many opportunities for the students completing a formal training program in Orthotics and Prosthetics. The primary objective is to train students in the general fabrication procedures of orthotic and prosthetic devices, which include working with thermoplastic, metal, leather, plaster, and orthotic and prosthetic components. Subjects covered include related human anatomy, technology of materials, hand and power tools, equipment, and laboratory safety.

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Coursework

One route to a career in orthotics and prosthetics is to receive a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in orthotics or prosthetics from a college or university having a program accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) in conjunction with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAEP). Undergraduate preparation typically includes courses in the psychology for the physically disabled, chemistry, biology, physics, physiology, anatomy, mathematics, mechanics, mechanical drawing, metalworking, prosthetic and orthotic techniques and extensive clinical training.

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Career Future Job Outlook

Employment prospects in these fields within the U.S. are very favorable. Advances in technology and materials are allowing prosthetists and orthotists to design and fabricate devices that provide greater comfort, safety and freedom than ever before.

Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Salary

Median annual salary-$43,786

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