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Orthotists Job

Orthotists create external supports and braces (orthoses) for people with weakened or deformed body parts. Their goal is to enable individuals to function to the best of their ability. Orthotists design and fit devices, known as orthoses, to provide care to patients who have disabling conditions of the limbs and spine.Orthotists may also be employed in industry as designers.
These health care professionals assess the patient’s history, test muscle strength and range of motion, and evaluate the devices for comfort, stability, and proper fit. Some professionals work as either a Prosthetist or Orthotist, others are Certified Prosthetists Orthotists (CPO) and can practice in both disciplines.
Orthotists work in a variety of settings including private practice, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, specialty clinics, and nursing homes. These are great careers for people who are problem solvers and who want to have extended relationships with their patients.

Orthotist specializes in the design, fabrication, fitting, alignment, adjustment of orthoses. An orthosis is any device added to the body to stabilize or immobilize a body part, prevent deformity, protect against injury, or assist with function.

According to the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education, the salary for board-certified orthotists averages between $42,000 and $60,000.

Orthotic and/or prosthetic education occurs in two forms: baccalaureate degree and certificate programs. Only three schools offer baccalaureate programs in prosthetics and orthotics: California State University, University of Texas and University of Washington. Certificate programs are offered at an additional five institutions including Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.

Orthotic Prosthetic Education
Degree programs are based on a standard 4-year curriculum, and certificate courses range from 6 months to 1 year for one discipline to 18 months to 2 years for both disciplines. Prerequisite courses vary quite a bit between programs, but typical requirements include at least 1 course each in: biology, chemistry, physics (the master’s program requires one calculus based physics course), psychology, algebra or higher math (the master’s program requires 2 semesters of calculus), human anatomy, human physiology. If a combined human anatomy/physiology course is taken it should be 2 semesters in length. Gross human anatomy with dissection is recommended at some schools and required at others. Other recommended courses include kinesiology, biomechanics, material science, public speaking, art/drawing/sculpture classes and business courses.

As the population grows and more insurance companies cover orthotic and prosthetic appliances, demand for these workers should grow. In addition, research and development in new technologies and materials will result in more people with disabilities wanting new appliances. Interest in sports competition by people with disabilities may also produce job growth in this occupation.