An orthotist specialises in treating and helping patients with many different kinds of mobility issues. Their aim is to help people regain normal movement and manage any pain they suffer from as a result of an injury or medical condition.
Orthotists will be able to supply their patients with orthoses, which include things like splints or braces, and commonly specialise in orthotic footwear or insoles as well. Orthoses may need to be unique, designed from scratch for the patient, which can involve the use of CAD (computer aided design) and virtual simulations. Other orthoses are simpler and can be fitted to most patients, sometimes with minor adjustments.
People with conditions including arthritis, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, spina bifida and similar conditions may be treated by an orthotist. You may also be seen by an orthotist if you have suffered a stroke, which often impairs movement. Professionals in this field would typically work closely with doctors and nurses, as well as physiotherapists and others, depending on the requirements of each patient.
The profession is also closely related to that of a prosthetist, who specialises in artificial replacements for missing limbs, either as a result of a birth defect, injury or amputation. The two professions are closely linked as they centre around helping patients to improve their quality of life through greater control of their movement. Being qualified with the Health and Care Professions Council is essential for both professions.
Orthotists need to be fully qualified before they start practising in hospitals or clinics, plus they are expected to engage in further study to keep their medical knowledge up to date. They may train to specialise in particular areas such as sports injury rehabilitation, or work specifically with either adults or children. Some orthotists also develop their skills later and move into other areas of the medical profession.