CHOOSING A CAREER / AUG. 21, 2014
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How to Become a Prosthetist-Orthotist

Many individuals lose their limbs or sustain orthopedic injuries for various reasons such as combat injuries, accidents and birth defects. If you are interested in helping such people, you can work as a prosthetist or orthotist. This career requires individuals with a deep interest to help patients struggling with physical movement to gain full recovery.

What do Prosthetists and orthotists do?

Prosthetists and orthotists work with individuals regaining from a stroke, and those suffering from diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or cerebral palsy. Their main tasks include:

  • Evaluating the patients’ needs before having an artificial limb or appliance fitted
  • Applying computer modelling to produce prosthesis and orthotic designs
  • Explaining finished designs to technicians to enable them produce the final product
  • Performing follow-up checks to see how patients are coping with their devices
  • Ensuring that limb appliances are functioning correctly
  • Performing adjustments and repairs if required

Salary

Below is the summary of the median annual salaries of a large number of prosthetists and orthotists who are employed by the NHS.

Starting salaries

 

£21,388- £27,901

Experienced prosthetists/orthotists

 

£25,783- £34,530

Healthcare science consultants

 

Up to £67,805

Source: NCS

Skills

Prosthetists and orthotists are required to have the following important qualities:

  • Excellent technical and practical skills
  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • A deep interest in the movement and working of a human body
  • Creativeness to produce and design devices
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Sensitivity and comprehension of the patients’ needs
  • Capability to use your initiative and perform well as part of a team
  • Excellent IT skills

Qualifications

To serve as a prosthetist or orthotist, you need to secure a three or four-year undergraduate degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics, recognized by the BAPO and the HCPC. In the UK, two universities offer these course i.e., the University of Salford and the University of Strathclyde. The entry levels for degree programs in this career include at least 5 GCSEs with A-C in Math, English and science-based subjects and three A levels in either Math, biology, chemistry or physics.

Individuals who are approved for the degree program are required to combine clinical placements with academic studies. This enables them to see victims wearing orthoses and prostheses. Subjects taught in these programs include:

  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Human motion analysis
  • Materials and design

Upon completing this degree, individuals are free to specialize in either orthotics or prosthetics. Determinant professionals can specialize in both areas too. Various institutions including the University of Salford and the University of Strathclyde provide a variety of appropriate postgraduate, open-learning, research and taught Masters qualifications.  An Honours degree is considered as the entry requirement for these advanced learning programs. With more experience, you can shift to a specialized clinical area or advance to a management post.

Career prospects

Career prospects for graduate prosthetics and orthotics are excellent since there is a worldwide shortage of these professionals. Since these courses have a worldwide recognition, professionals are open to overseas job opportunities. Therefore, they might work in private practice or in servicing and manufacturing industries.  Other typical employers include various organizations such as the Red Cross that offer services to communities disturbed by war.

The National Careers Service predicts job opportunities in this sector to rise up to 338,000 by 2020 in the UK. This is attributed to the big aging baby-boom people who will create the need for prosthetists and orthotists owing to various ailments such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

If you have a strong aptitude in science and would like to apply your practical problem skills to help others, this career is meant for you.

Image Source: http://tnhealthandwellness.com

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