An orthotist-prosthetist is a university-trained health professional who assesses for and designs, makes and fits artificial limbs (prostheses) and supportive devices (orthoses).
Orthotist-prosthetists work on improving the movement and comfort of people who are missing limbs, people with disabilities of the bones and muscles, and people who have had injuries – for example, fractures – or burns.
Orthotist-prosthetists work in private clinics, as well as public and private hospitals.
Why your child might see an orthotist-prosthetist
An orthotist-prosthetist might work with your child if he needs:
- a prosthesis because of amputation or limb deficiency
- support for an injured, weak or incorrectly functioning limb
- help with rehabilitation from an injury
- help to reduce pain
- help to increase movement and independence.
If your child has lost a limb through an accident or illness, or your child is born without a limb or with a limb that isn’t fully formed, she is very likely to see an orthotist-prosthetist. The orthotist-prosthetist will assess your child, make a special limb for your child, and see your child regularly as she grows. This is to check the limb and/or replace it when your child grows out of it.
Orthotist-prosthetists can help these children in different ways, including fitting a brace to help with walking or to give stability.
Before going to an orthotist-prosthetist
If your GP, child and family health nurse or other specialist – for example, an orthopaedic surgeon – refers your child to an orthotist-prosthetist, it’s a good idea to talk with your GP about the following things:
- Why you’re going to the orthotist-prosthetist: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see an orthotist-prosthetist and whether there’s anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment.
- Waiting list: how long before you can get an appointment to see the orthotist-prosthetist?
- Making an appointment: it might take you more than one phone call to make an appointment.
- Cost: how much will the appointment with the orthotist-prosthetist cost? It might be expensive, so you could check whether you can get money back from private health insurance or whether you should consider registering with a government funding body for financial help.
- Location: find out where you have to go to see the orthotist-prosthetist – for example, a public or private hospital or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child’s needs.
You might want to talk about these things and any other questions you have with your GP before you go to the orthotist-prosthetist. You could also ask the orthotist-prosthetist clinic when you make the appointment. It’s a good idea to write down any questions you have, so you don’t forget.