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Industries & Professions /
Orthotic and Prosthetic Technicians
Orthotic technicians and prosthetic technicians (also known as medical appliance technicians) make, fit, repair, and maintain orthotic and prosthetic devices according to specifications and under the guidance of orthotists and prosthetists. Orthotic devices, sometimes also referred to as orthopedic appliances, are braces used to support weak or ineffective joints or muscles or to correct physical defects, such as spinal deformities. Prosthetic devices are artificial limbs and plastic cosmetic devices. These devices are designed and fitted to the patient by prosthetists or orthotists. Orthotic and prosthetic technicians read the specifications prepared by orthotists and prosthetists to determine the materials and tools required to make the device. Part of their work involves making models of patients' torsos, limbs, or amputated areas. Most of the technicians' efforts, however, go into the actual building of the devices. Some technicians specialize in either orthotic devices or prosthetic devices, while others are trained and able to work with both types. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, orthotic and prosthetic technicians hold approximately 13,320 jobs. The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists claims that 100 percent of all orthotic and prosthetic graduates are employed.
A technician whose work is closely related to that of the orthotic and prosthetic technician is the arch-support technician. Arch-support technicians make steel arch supports to fit a patient's foot according to prescriptions supplied by podiatrists, prosthetists, or orthotists.