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Orthotist and Prosthetist

 
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Job Duties 

Working Conditions/Requirements 

Education & Preparation 

Job Openings & Entry Method 

Earnings & Advancement 

Employment & Outlook 

 

Sources of Additional Information 

Orthotists and Prosthetists design, write specifications for, construct, and fit artificial appliances for body deformities and disorders based on a clinical assessment and a physician's prescription to restore physiological function and/or cosmesis.  These appliances include artificial limbs; neck, leg, and back braces; and surgical supports.  An individual may be both an Orthotist and a Prosthetist. 


JOB DUTIES  

Orthotists and Prosthetists may:

Review the prescription which specifies the type of appliance or limb needed 

Examine and measure the limb or other affected area 

Make a plaster cast of the limb or affected area 

Correct irregularities and deficiencies in the cast 

Design an appliance which will give maximum function 

Select appropriate materials and components and give the specifications to a Technician 

Make a limb or brace that requires special attention 

Fit the appliance to the patient and note any adjustments needed 

Counsel the patient on how to use the device 

Provide maintenance and repair of devices 

Maintain accurate patient records 

Click here to see Othotists & Prosthetists in action!

The tools, equipment, and materials used may include:

* Hand tools 

* Fiberglass & resins 

* Drill presses 

* Jointers & routers 

* Parting agents 

* Prefabricated components 

* Welding equipment 

* Grinding & buffing machines 

* Sanders & planers 

* Measurement recording forms 

* Artificial limbs & orthopedic braces 

* Equipment for measuring/storing/curing plastics 

* Plastic/leather/rubber/wood/cork/metals/plaster 

* Implanted prosthetic devices such as myo-electric arms 

* Hydraulic/pneumatic devices which are used in artificial legs 

* Carbon dioxide gas controls/batteries to operate orthopedic devices 


OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTIES 

Orthotists and Prosthetists may specialize in these areas:

078.261-018 ORTHOTISTS design, make, and fit orthopedic braces, supports, and shoes, following the prescription of a physician. 

078.261-022 PROSTHETISTS specialize in planning, making, and fitting artificial limbs, usually an arm or leg or a part of an arm or leg. 

712.381-034 ORTHOTICS TECHNICIANS make and repair braces and other orthotic devices such as surgical corsets and corrective shoes according to the specifications of an Orthotist. 

712.381-038 PROSTHETICS TECHNICIANS make and finish artificial limbs by gluing and laminating materials according to the specifications of a Prosthetist. 

078.361-022 ORTHOTICS ASSISTANTS assist Orthotists in providing care to patients with disabling conditions of the limbs and spine by fabricating and fitting supportive or corrective devices. Orthotics Assistants may supervise Orthotics Technicians. 

078.361-026 PROSTHETICS ASSISTANTS assist Prosthetists in providing care to patients with partial or total absence of a limb by fabricating and fitting artificial limbs or devices. Prosthetics Assistants may supervise Prosthetics Technicians. 

In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration Scripts: 

 

WORKING CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS 

Orthotists and Prosthetists consult with physicians, therapists, and other professionals on the rehabilitation team to evaluate the appropriateness of the appliance or limb. They work with minimum supervision. They work with patients to fit artificial limbs, braces, and other appliances. Depending on the shop or institution, Orthotists and Prosthetists may supervise Orthotics and Prosthetics Technicians. Their businesses may be very small and employ as few as one or two workers. 

Their fitting rooms (similar to examination rooms) in private offices and institutions are clean, well lighted, and well ventilated. Their workrooms may be noisy and dusty because of the machines and materials used. However, shops may have vacuums to eliminate some of the dust in the work areas. There may also be fumes from solvents, lacquers, and heat treatment processes present and the possibility of injury from moving machinery. 

Orthotists, Prosthetists, Assistants, and Technicians usually work 40 hours per week. Some work on Saturdays. Overtime may be necessary depending on the number of prescriptions for appliances which must be filled that week. Orthotists and Prosthetists may travel within the local area to attend fitting sessions held at hospitals, clinics, or rehabilitation agencies. 

Workers usually have tools and equipment provided by shop owners. 

Certified Orthotists and Prosthetists may belong to the American Academyfor Orthotists and Prosthetists. Certified shop owners may belong to the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association. Technicians may belong to Clerical-Technical Unions. Members must pay annual fees. 

You Should Prefer:

  • Dealing with things and objects 
  • Using processes, machinery, and techniques 
  • Working with your hands 

You Should Be Able To:

  • Rate information by using personal judgment and standards 
  • Work within precise limits or standards of accuracy 
  • Work skillfully with your fingers and hands 

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve:

The molding temperature of a shock absorbing material is 300 degrees. If a piece that is 1/16" thick requires 30 seconds at that temperature and a piece that is 1/8" thick requires 1 minute, how much time will it take to make a 1/4" piece moldable? 

Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend:

A bilateral PTB orthosis wearer was fitted with appliances incorporating instrumented strain gages. The results of the force plate tests indicated the left leg of the bilateral PTB orthosis wearer carried a significant portion of the axial load during most of the stance-swing cycle. 

You should be able to write a report analyzing a new type of foam for use in an orthosis. 

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate:

You should be able to decide the best way to alleviate the discomfort a patient may be feeling after wearing a cast boot. 

Employers may require that Orthotists, Prosthetists, Assistants, and Technicians be certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics. The State of Michiganrequires a license for this occupation.  Click here for "Michigan Licensed Occupations," see Ocularist or Ocularist Apprentice for specific licensing information. 

EDUCATION AND PREPARATION OPPORT UNITIES 

NOTE: A High School Diploma or Equivalent and an Associate Degree (two years of study beyond High School) or an Apprenticeship (usually three to four years of training beyond High School) or a Bachelor's Degree (four years of study beyond High School) may qualify a person for this occupation.

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in this Career Exploration Script: 

***SCHOOL SUBJECTS***

0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1000 COMPUTERS , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS , 2200 MATH, 2900 SCIENCE , 3300 TECHNOLOGY

***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS***

There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration Script. 

Students should obtain the local Career Education Consumer Report for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center. 

***POSTSECONDARY PROGRAMS***

220 ORTHOTICS AND PROSTHETICS

A bachelor's degree in orthotics and prosthetics (or a bachelor's in a related discipline with a certificate in orthotics and prosthetics) prepares students to work with patients and the rehabilitation team (physicians, nurses, occupational and physical therapists). In addition to the basic health sciences, students also learn measurement, impression and fabrication techniques and about the materials available. Courses will vary from school to school but may include: 

Physiology 

Anatomy 

Biochemistry 

Psychology 

Interpersonal Skills 

Orthotics 

Prosthetics 

Materials Technology 

Mechanics 

Technical Drawing 

Electronics 

Mechanical Engineering 

Search for a College and/or Instructional Program 

***APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES***

030 ORTHOTICS & PROSTHETICS TECHNICIAN

Some people enter occupations within this Career Exploration Script through an apprenticeship program.  An apprenticeship program is a formal program that takes 3 - 5 years to complete with most of the time spent on the job. 

WHAT IS LEAR NED ON THE JOB

Repair 

Plaster Working 

Fitting 

Tools & Equipment 

Finishing 

Socket Fabrication 

Woodworking 

Checkout & Delivery 

Plastic Working 

Measurements & Casts 

Construction & Selection of Components 

Leather, Plastic Sheeting & Fabric Working 

WHAT IS LEAR NED IN THE CLASSROOM

Algebra 

General Orientation 

Geometry 

Biology & Biomechanics 

Kinesiology 

Basic Engineering Drawing 

Trigonometry 

Fundamentals of Applied Anatomy 

Communications 

Professional Problems & Practices 

Safety Practices 

Fundamentals of Statics & Dynamics 

Pathomechanics of the Extremities & Trunk 

***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS***

There are no Military Programs related to this Career Exploration Script.

  E-Learning Courses and Programs   

OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPERIENCE AND METHODS OF ENTRY 

Experience with orthopedic devices may be gained in the military service and through formal apprenticeship programs. Summer, part-time, or voluntary work in a rehabilitation facility may offer opportunities to see the skills needed. 

School-to-Work opportunities include:

informal apprenticeships 

mentorships 

job shadowing experiences 

touring a local Orthotist & Prosthetist employer 

internships 

volunteer work with a Orthotist & Prosthetist employer 

community service work with an agency 

Orthotists and Prosthetists may find jobs by applying directly to employers. Job assistance may be obtained from school placement offices, civil service offices, federal job information centers, and local offices of Michigan Works!. Openings may be listed in newspaper want ads. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as: 

Orthotics & Prosthetics 

American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association 

  Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

Monster Healthcare 

Health Care Jobs 

Michigan Talent Bank 

America's Job Bank 

simplyhired.com 

Indeed | one search. all jobs. 

You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services.

EARNINGS AND ADVANCEMENT 

Earnings of Orthotics and Prosthetics may depend upon educational background, training, experience, talent, and certification as well as the employer and the geographic location. 

Nationally, average salary of Orthotists/Prosthetists working in hospitals was $59,200 per year (mid 2006), while Orthotic Technicians earned annual salaries ranging from about $26,200 to $34,500 per year. 

The median yearly earnings of "all" workers in the U.S.were $33,852 in 2005. 

Depending on their education and experience, Orthotists, Prosthetists, Assistants and Technicians employed by the Federal government earned from $25,195 to $71,965 per year (2006). The salaries of these federal government workers may be higher in some urban areas. 

Prosthetists and Orthotists employed by hospitals in the North Central area of the United States, which includes Michigan, averaged $62,300 per year in mid 2006, with Orthopedic Technicians averaging $32,100 per year. 

Orthotists, Prosthetists, Assistants, and Technicians usually receive paid vacations. Some also receive health, life, or disability insurance. Those who work for the federal government receive the same benefits as other government employees receive. 

Trainees or apprentices may advance to Technicians, Assistants, Orthotists and/or Prosthetists after acquiring the needed training. Certified Orthotists and Prosthetists may open their own business if they have the necessary funding. 

EMPLOYMENT AND OUTLOOK 

There were approximately 6,000 certified Orthotists and Prosthetists employed nationally in 2004, plus an indeterminate number who were not certified. The number of certified Orthotists and Prosthetists is increasing every year. 

The employment of Orthotists & Prosthetists is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. The industry distribution for Orthotists and Prosthetists looked like this: 

NAICS Code 

NAICS Industry Title 

%   Employed 

4461RR 

Cosmetic, Beauty Supply, and All Other Health and Personal Care Stores 

25.3 

339100 

Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing 

19.4 

622100 

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, Private 

8.1 

946220 

State and Local Government Hospitals 

5.2 

919999 

Federal Government, Excluding Postal Service 

4.9 

621100 

Offices of Physicians 

3.8 

423000 

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods 

2.5 

623000 

Nursing and Residential Care Facilities 

2.3 

622300 

Specialty (Except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals, Private 

2.0 

-- 

Others 

22.7 

There are about 150 certified Orthotists and prosthetists working in Michigan. Most were self-employed and owned their own facilities. Others worked for hospitals, rehabilitation centers, outpatient care facilities, and Veterans' Administration (VA) facilities. There will be fewer openings for Orthotists and Prosthetists as the field is becoming more competitive and the need for more workers is slowing.  To watch a video clip on latest diabetic foot orthoses development click here . 

MICHIGAN'S EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK TO 2012 

EMPLOYMENT AND 

NUMBER 

PERCENT 

PROJECTED YEARLY 

OUTLOOK REGIONS 

EMPLOYED 

GROWTH 

JOB OPENINGS 

State Total 

150 

12.8% 

4 

 

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SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFO RMATION 

Printed Occupational information is available upon written request from the sources below. 

American Academy of 
Orthotists & Prosthetists 

526 King Street, Suite 201 
Alexandria, VA 22314 
1-703-836-0788 

University of Michigan Health System 
Orthotic/Prosthetic 
2850 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 400 
Ann Arbor, MI 48104 
1-734-973-2400 

American Board for Certification in Orthotics & Prosthetics 
330 John Carlyle Street, Suite 210 
Alexandria, VA 22314 
1-703-836-7114 

U.S. Department of Education 
Office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services 

400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. 
Washington, DC 20202-7100 
1-202-245-7468 

American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association 
330 John Carlyle Street, Suite 200 
Alexandria, VA 22314 
1-571-431-0876 

National Commission on Orthotic & Prosthetic Education 
330 John Carlyle Street, Suite 200 
Alexandria, VA 22314 
1-703-836-7114 

Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth 
Licensing Division 

P.O. Box 30018 
Lansing, MI 48909 
1-517-241-9288 

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training State Director's Office
315 W. Allegan, Room 209
Lansing, MI 48933
1-517-377-1746
 

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Federal, State, and Local
Civil Service Offices
 

Nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities  

 

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