Orthotics - Types, Treatment & FAQs

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Orthotics is concerned with using artificial supports or braces. Orthoses play an integral role in the rehabilitation of a large number of lives.

The Oxford dictionary defines orthotics as the branch of medicine concerned with the provision and use of artificial supports or braces. Orthoses play an integral role in the rehabilitation of a large number of lives. Be it an infant born with a dislocated hip; be it a 100 year old who sustained a stroke, they all rely on wearing orthoses. The fact that orthoses improve an individual’s functions is clear as daylight; selecting the best suited device is the clinical art that needs to evolve.

The field of orthotics covers appliances for the lower limb, upper limb, trunk and neck.

The term takes birth from the Greek ortho” that means “to straighten.” Thus the field is connected to orthopaedics. The professionals engaged in this field are Othotists. An interesting fact is that ‘Orthopaedic’ means ‘straight child’!

An orthotic is defined as an orthopaedic appliance that supports, aligns, prevents, or corrects deformities of a body part or to improves the function of a movable part of the body. Brace is a synonym for orthoses. A splint is nothing but a temporary orthoses; sling and cuff denote particular orthotic designs.

Let me not confuse you with all the jargons! The field of orthotics is not a recent entry into Medical science; it dates back to long before the times of Hippocrates to the ancient Egyptian dynasties. Ancient Egyptian paintings depict persons wearing orthoses. Hippocrates, the Greek physician (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC) used braces and splints to treat fractures and dislocations.

ORTHOTIC CLINICAL TEAM - The members of an orthotic clinical team comprises of the following professionals:



Physical therapist

Oh yes but the key member of the team is the patient himself.

In addition the team also includes occupational therapist, pedorthist, social worker and other health care professionals (like a podiatrist). A pedorthist is a specialist in using footwear (which includes shoes, shoe modifications, foot orthoses and other pedorthic devises). Podiatry is a branch of medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle and lower leg.

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