Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) professionals combine skills coming from art, science and technology to evaluate, fabricate and fit orthopedic braces (orthoses) and artificial limbs (prostheses). A critical part of health care teams, O&P professionals work not only with patients but as part of an interdisciplinary team involving physicians, occupational and physical therapists and other care providers.
Advances in technology—particularly robotics, materials science and computer-aided design—have paved the way for ongoing innovation in this health care field, whether you pursue a career as a technician, assistant or full-scale practitioner.
O&P patients may require short- or long-term care depending on the prognosis for their individual health condition. Orthotic patients receive external support for parts of the body that are impaired due to disease or injury, while prosthetic patients’ needs result from congenital limb absence, trauma or disease requiring amputation.
Many people who work in the O&P field were drawn to it because someone close to them benefited from an orthosis or prosthesis or they were exposed to it through work in related health care disciplines. Other traits O&P team members have in common are a strong desire to improve the quality of life for their patients, well-developed motor skills, keen problem-solving abilities, compassion and, not surprisingly, an aptitude for science and math.
If this sounds like you and you want to pursue a career in profession that is projected to grow through 2025, consider furthering your research on O&P.