Orthotists fit external supports and braces for people with weakened or deformed body parts with the goal of enabling individuals to function to the best of their ability. Prosthetists produce and fit artificial limbs to help people with limb loss function more fully.
Both fields combine knowledge of medicine, engineering and materials science to enhance the lives of people every day. Orthotists and prosthetists assess the patient’s history, test muscle strength and range of motion, and evaluate the devices for comfort, stability and proper fit.
Some professionals work as either a prosthetist or orthotist, while others are certified prosthetists andorthotists and can practice in both disciplines.
Prerequisite courses vary quite a bit between programs, but typical requirements include the following:
- 2 semesters General Biology with labs
- 2 semesters Anatomy & Physiology with labs
- 2 semesters General Chemistry with labs
- 2 semesters General Physics with labs
- 1 semester Genearl Psychology
- 1-2 semesters College Algebra or higher math
- Other Recommended Courses: Gross anatomy with dissection, kinesiology, biomechanics, materials science, public speaking, art/drawing/sculpture, business courses
Generally, a grade below a C is not acceptable for prerequisite courses
Beginning in January 2013, the National Commission on Orthotics and Prosthetics Education (NCOPE) stated that a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics is the minimum educational standard to become a certified practitioner. Currently there are 13 active master’s degree programs in the U.S. Several more are set to start in 2013 and later. Upon graduation from an accredited O&P program, students must complete an NCOPE-accredited residency program to gain clinical training and experience in three primary areas: pediatrics, adult and geriatrics. After certification, individuals may use the credentials of certified orthotist, certified prosthetist or certified prosthetist orthotist.
Aptitude Test and Application
A GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is required. Application is made directly with the schools you would like to attend.
Links and Additional Orthotist and Prosthetist Information
- American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists
- Orthotics & Prosthetics (from AAOP – career information)
- National Commission on Orthotic & Prosthetic Education