Prosthetic-orthotics technicians design, create, fit and repair supportive devices, such as braces, joints, arch supports, and other surgical and medical appliances.
Includes people producing orthopaedic devices.
Excludes people producing electrical devices such as hearing aids.
Prosthetic-orthotics technicians typically do the following:
- Assist in designing and fabricating custom prosthetics, such as artificial limbs, using computer software programs
- Create casts and molds of patients’ limbs to create a custom fit for braces, artificial limbs, or other prosthetics
- Provide care to patients who have received new prostheses or braces, making sure they are adapting to them well
- Assist patients in fitting new braces and prosthetics to ensure that they are comfortable and properly fitted
- Maintain patient records and collect data regarding the patient’s progress
- Fit and measure patients for braces, prosthetics, and other orthotic devices
- Provide patients with instructions on how to care for and maintain their orthotics or prosthetics
- Order supplies and materials needed to fabricate orthotics or prosthetics
- Teach patients how to use their orthotic or prosthetic devices properly to ensure effective treatment outcomes
The following job titles also refer to prosthetic-orthotics technician:
prosthetic devices maker
orthotic and prosthetic technician
orthotic appliance maker
prosthetic support maker
surgical appliance maker
prosthetic appliance maker
orthopaedic appliance maker
prosthetic brace maker
surgical appliance technician
Prosthetic-orthotics technicians work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and manufacturing and research laboratories. They typically work a regular 40-hour week, although they may be required to work evenings or weekends to meet deadlines or to accommodate patients’ schedules. They may also travel to patients’ homes or workplaces to fit or adjust devices.
Prosthetic-orthotics technicians may be exposed to infectious diseases and to hazardous materials, such as plaster and fiberglass, so they must take precautions to protect themselves. The work can be physically demanding, and technicians may be required to lift and carry heavy materials.
Most employers require prosthetic-orthotics technicians to have at least an associate’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics or a related field. These programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, biomechanics and patient management.
Prosthetic-orthotics technicians receive on-the-job training from their employers. This training typically includes instruction on the company’s policies and procedures, as well as the use of any specialized equipment.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Prosthetic-orthotics technician is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Prosthetic-orthotics technician career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to prosthetic-orthotics technician.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of prosthetic-orthotics technician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of prosthetic-orthotics technician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of prosthetic-orthotics technician.
- Prosthetic devices: The various artificial replacements of body parts or limbs, which were lost during a trauma, disease or an accident.
- Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
- Types of orthopedic supplies: Various types of orthopaedic supplies such as braces and arm supports, used for physical therapy or physical rehabilitation.
- Biomedical engineering: The biomedical engineering processes used to create medical devices, prostheses and in treatments.
- Orthotic devices: The types of devices used for support such as braces, arch supports and joints.
- Prosthetic-orthotic device materials: The materials used to create prosthetic-orthotic devices such as polymers, thermoplastic and thermosetting materials, metal alloys and leather. In the choice of materials, attention must be paid to medical regulations, cost and biocompatibility.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of prosthetic-orthotics technician.
- Manipulate plastic: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of plastic.
- Manipulate metal: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of metal.
- Manipulate wood: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of wood.
- Repair prosthetic-orthotic devices: Perform repairs, fix and modify prosthetic-orthotic devices according to the specifications.
- Use technical drawing software: Create technical designs and technical drawings using specialised software.
- Finish prosthetic-orthotic devices: Complete the manufacturing of prosthetic and orthotic devices by sanding, smoothing, applying paint or lacquer layers, stuffing and covering some parts with leather or textiles.
- Interpret prescriptions: Interpret the specifications written down by doctors or other professionals to determine the type of product or device that needs to be created, as well as the materials that need to be used.
- Maintain prosthetic-orthotic devices: Ensure that all prosthetic-orthotic devices are properly stored and taken care of so they maintain their functionality and appearance.
- Test prosthetic-orthotic devices: Ensure that the prosthetic-orthotic devices fit the patient according to specifications. Test and evaluate them to ensure that they work as intended. Make adjustments to ensure proper fit, function and comfort.
- Manufacture prosthetic-orthotic devices: Create prosthetic-orthotic devices according to the designs of the prosthetist-orthotist, company specifications and national and international regulations. Use specialised materials, tools and machinery.
- Repair orthopedic goods: Replace and repair orthopaedic material such as prostheses, technical supports and rehabilitation aids.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of prosthetic-orthotics technician. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Use of special equipment for daily activities: The types of special equipment, prosthetics and orthotics used to aid with performing daily activities, such as wheelchairs.
- Musculoskeletal anatomy: The human musculoskeletal system, comprising of the skeleton, muscles, cartilage, tendons, joints and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. The human musculoskeletal system’s primary functions, such as supporting the body, allowing motion, and protecting vital organs.
- Orthopaedic goods industry: The characteristics of devices and suppliers in the orthopaedic devices field.
- Biomedical techniques: The various methods and techniques used in biomedical laboratory such as molecular and biomedical techniques, imaging techniques, genetic engineering, electrophysiology techniques and in silico techniques.
- Prosthetic-orthotic examination: The examination, interview and measurement of patients to determine the prosthetic-orthotic device to be made, including their kind and size.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of prosthetic-orthotics technician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
- Recommend orthopedic goods to customers depending on their condition: Recommend and provide advice on orthopaedic goods and pieces of equipment such as braces, slings or elbow supports. Provide individual advice depending on customer’s specific condition and needs.
- Advise on medical device features: Provide information on how the medical device is functioning, what are its features, advantages and usability terms.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Maintain prosthetic-orthotic laboratory equipment: Check the condition of the prosthetic-orthotic laboratory equipment used. Clean and perform maintenance operations as necessary.
- Design objects to be crafted: Sketch, draw or design sketches and drawings from memory, live models, manufactured products or reference materials in the process of crafting and sculpting.
- Use casts of body parts: Use plaster to make impressions of body parts, or receive casts to use for the fabrication of products or devices.
ISCO group and title
3214 – Medical and dental prosthetic technicians
- Prosthetic-orthotics technician – ESCO
- Orthotic And Prosthetic Technician Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
- Featured image: By Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – www.dfat.gov.au, CC BY 3.0 au