Allied Health Professions/
Orthotist and Prosthetist
People lose limbs or suffer orthopedic impairment for many reasons, including accidents, combat injuries, birth defects and disease. Health care workers who specialize in orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) help these patients regain their mobility by fitting them with artificial limbs (prostheses) and orthopedic braces (orthoses).
This fascinating field encompasses a variety of specialized careers, each of which contributes to designing, making, fitting, modifying, repairing and maintaining O&P devices that make an immeasurable impact on an individual’s quality of life:
Many people enter this field because they or someone they know has benefited from a prosthetic or orthotic device. It is extremely rewarding to watch someone with a severe impairment regain lost abilities and enjoy new independence. Advances in technology, such as microprocessors, myoelectric joints and computer imaging, make this a particularly exciting time to be involved in O&P.
O&P professionals work in private practice, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, specialty clinics and laboratories devoted to the fabrication, modification and repair of O&P devices.
According to the 2013 American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) Benefits & Compensation Report, average compensation (base salary, bonus and commission) for the following job titles is:
Compensation varies based on many factors, e.g., geographical location, years of experience and inclusion or exclusion of fringe benefits.
Need for Orthotists and Prosthetists
The U.S. Department of Education lists O&P training as a “national priority with a practitioner deficit.” The need for O&P services is rising rapidly, due in part to increasing obesity, diabetes and an aging population. The ability to provide the most cost-effective and clinically appropriate O&P care will be dependent on having a large enough pool of well-educated certified orthotists and prosthetists.
About a Career as an Orthotist and Prosthetist
About Health Care Careers
Note: The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists reviewed this career profile.
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Training requirements vary depending on the type of orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) career you choose:
Students can sit for their certification exam after they complete a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education (CAAHEP) and a one-year residency per discipline.
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Allied Health Professions
Last updated: June 30, 2016
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