What is Orthotics ?

Orthotics describes the science and practice of assessing a patient and designing, fabricating, assembling, fitting, altering or servicing an orthosis. Some orthotics can be found in over-the-counter venues such as cushioned heel cups or insoles for shoes. Other orthotic devices require custom fit.

What is an orthosis ?

An orthosis means an apparatus designed to furnish support to sickly, fragile or nonfunctioning joints and/or muscles. An orthosis refers to an orthopedic appliance or device used to support, align, prevent or correct deformities, and to improve function of the spine or limbs. Some examples of orthoses include such items as knee braces, elbow supports, ankle/foot or leg braces, spinal and neck braces.

What do Orthotists and Pedorthists do ?

Health professionals, called Orthotists, assess, quantify, propose, fabricate, assemble, tailor, alter and service orthotic braces. Their role encompasses patient assessment, formation of a treatment plan, follow-up and practice management. Orthotists operate in conjunction with licensed physicians, chiropractors or podiatrists to remedy or mitigate neuromuscular or musculoskeletal dysfunction, disease, injury or deformity. Certified Orthotists benefit patients by:

A Little on Treatment

Unfortunately, inability to use your knee(s) greatly impacts your life, but state of the art treatment can return function to the knee. First aid measures and rest denote the first line of treatment for a knee injury or condition. If initial treatment fails, your provider may advise bracing, physical therapy, medication, and, occasionally, surgery. Management of the knee condition varies contingent upon the location, nature, and seriousness of the injury as well as your age, health state, and degree of activity (such as sedentary lifestyle, working, participating in sports).

Adapting their devices to fit on debilitated body parts Re-organizing anatomical structures
Assisting individuals to walk safely and effectively
Helping individuals learn how to enhance the functionality of their orthotics
Recognizing environmental obstacles in social, home and work settings
Perfecting overall balance; and Improving the function of limbs that have been altered by accident, congenital deformity, neural condition or disease.

Is a prescription from a physician required to obtain an orthosis ?

Yes. A physician must write a prescription before an orthosis can be custom made. However, an initial evaluation by the Orthotist does not require a prescription.

Is wearing an orthosis uncomfortable ?

Donning an orthosis and wearing it should not be uncomfortable or painful. If an orthosis creates any discomfort or pain, the individual should contact their orthotist as soon as possible for an evaluation of the fit of the orthosis. While dressed in any style of orthosis, individuals need to take safe care of their skin to guard against skin irritation. Alteration in the skin integrity can appear as redness, blisters, open sore or rawness. Individuals with an orthosis can avoid skin breakdown by always: 1) cleaning the orthosis with gentle soap and water or a non-toxic cleaning product, and 2) do not use topical creams or lotions in close proximity to the orthosis. When any skin breakdown occurs, the individual needs to contact their orthotist as soon as possible.

How frequently does an orthosis need to be replaced ?

Many factors affect the useable life of an orthosis. The level of activity, how much an individual weighs, and the particular design of the apparatus influence the actual wear time of the orthosis. Durable materials are generally used to create most orthosis so degradation of the material usually fails to be a reason for a new apparatus. Straps and other parts undergo replacement and maintenance multiple times before a orthosis needs to be entirely exchanged for a new one. Most often, the replacement of an orthosis occurs because of changes in a person’s body habitus that alters the fit of the device. Most orthoses can usually last for one or more years, and many can be worn for multiple years. Individuals with orthoses should request a re-evaluation of the orthosis every six months to a year to confirm integrity of the device.

How often should individuals see an orthotist ?

Individuals with orthosis devices should follow-up with an orthotist every 3 to 6 months for assessment or sooner if changes in their weight occur or their activity level increases or decreases. These follow-up appointments help to recognize changes in the anatomy or overall circumstances of the patient prior to a difficulty arising.