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Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician

Fabricate artificial limbs and devices to help patients regain mobility.

What does an Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician do?

Orthotic and Prosthetic Technicians create artificial limbs, corrective supports, and internal devices that replace weakened or defective organs. An Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician’s patients either have missing appendages due to injury, or suffer from diseases-like polio or muscular dystrophy-that weaken certain body parts.

The orthotic part of your job as an Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician means you strengthen existing body parts with braces and splints, while the prosthetic part means you replace those that no longer exist. Typical duties include fabricating limbs, fitting artificial limbs and braces for new patients, modifying existing ones for patient comfort and ease of use, and maintaining fabrication equipment.

The job is way more complex than sorting through store mannequin pieces, or putting together doll parts. Devices come in all shapes and sizes-from wheelchairs to dentures to orthopedic shoes-and each one is completely unique to the individual, custom-designed by you. Some, like artificial lungs or legs, use advanced technology. So to succeed, you have to have a strong knowledge of human anatomy and sound construction techniques.

Think of your job as part Architect, part Engineer, and part Cosmetologist. While it is important that you design an artificial limb that functions properly, it also needs to look good and work for the patient in his or her daily life. Patients are ultimately human beings who want to fit in even though they’re missing certain body parts. Because it takes more than one session with a patient to properly fit any of these devices, it’s important to build a strong rapport with him or her-one that takes both technical accuracy and human behavior into consideration.