Prosthetics is the area of science related to designing, fabricating and fitting custom-made artificial limbs, or prostheses. A prosthesis serves to replace the amputated body part in function and appearance. The loss of a limb may have resulted from a congenital disorder, traumatic injury, vascular disease, diabetes or cancer.
Due to the infinite differences in human physical anatomy, fabrication of prosthetic devices must be customized to each individual. Customization involves procedures, which require the utmost skill and use of sophisticated technology. The Prosthetist must possess a thorough knowledge of anatomy and apply not only clinical training, but also technological and mechanical abilities.
In order to fabricate a prosthesis for a patient, many things must be considered; the patient’s activity level, functional needs and physical changes must all be taken into account. A new prosthesis is usually required every few years. However, with pediatric patients their growth rates and activity levels change rapidly, requiring new prostheses more frequently. The same is also true with very active adults. In these cases, a new prosthesis will be needed more frequently. With all patients, adjustments, repairs and realignments are part of the ongoing treatment they will receive.
Orthotics is the design, fabricating and fitting of orthopedic braces, or orthoses. Orthotics assist weakened or impaired joints or muscle groups. Many of these custom-made orthoses such as knee, spinal, and cervical orthoses as well as foot orthoses provide support to treat musculoskeletal disorders such as ailments of the back, neck, extremities or joints.
These weaknesses may be the result of congenital disorders, traumatic injuries, chronic injuries, diseases or sports and activities injuries. The orthosis helps to protect and give support to the injured area while healing and strengthening take place. In some instances the injury is congenital or degenerative, and the orthosis is worn on a permanent basis.