What’s The Difference Between Orthotics And Prosthetics?

For people that require assistive devices, there are a lot of options. But of course, different devices are designed to meet the needs of different users so it’s important that you understand what each one is for. One of the things that a lot of people get confused about is the difference between orthotics and prosthetics. 

Orthotics are designed to help those who require assistance with their limb function whereas a prosthetic is designed to replace a missing limb. 

If you require an assistive device, this guide will help you to better understand which is right for you. 

What Are Orthotics?

When a person has problems using their limbs, they may be given an orthotic device. These devices are used to correct the limbs and improve their performance. Moreover, orthotics can be used for other body parts, not just the limbs.

It is very common for a specialist to provide orthotics to those who may have some sort of deficiency or deformity. The idea is that the device will reduce the stress on that body part which in turn aids the healing process. There’s less chance of inflammation, swelling and pain when using an orthotic.

One example of this type of device is a foot orthotic; commonly known as an insole. Another great example of this is a spinal orthotic which is provided to those who have back problems related to conditions such as scoliosis.

If you are given one of the many types of braces, these also come under the orthotic umbrella. 

What Are Prosthetics?

People often get prosthetics and orthotics mixed up and they’re usually thinking of prosthetics in this instance. These are devices that are used to replace a missing body part as opposed to an orthotic which aids the function of an existing one.

When most people think of prosthetics, they will imagine an artificial arm or leg and these are among the most common types. They are given to people who were born with a missing limb or who have had to go through an amputation.

There is such a wide diversity between prosthetics. Some are very technologically advanced, allowing function, whereas others are a simple aesthetic replacement for the missing limb. Those that are more advanced can even replace the intricate lost function which improves the user’s quality of life, enabling them to continue performing day to day tasks. 

Are There Any Similarities Between Orthotics And Prosthetics?

Orthosis and prosthesis are two different types of assistive devices but there are a couple of things that are similar between some of them. 

For starters, both orthotics and prosthetics are considered to be mechanical devices in many cases. Moreover, these devices are usually prescribed to people who have similar medical or physical conditions.

Getting Orthotics Or Prosthetics – The Process

In the world of modern medicine and technology, patients with physical disabilities are extremely fortunate in the choices they have. When you require a prosthetic or orthotic device, you’ll usually have it custom made to meet your exact needs. 

In order to do this, you’ll need to have a cast made. However, this is usually a lot simpler when fitting a patient for an orthotic device. When fitting someone for prosthesis, your specialist will need to make a negative cast of your missing limb before they can make the positive cast that they’ll use to fashion your device.

One of the other great things about the moderna advances in technology is that it’s now possible to mechanically create a cast so the process is far quicker than it used to be. What’s more, doing it this way allows for much greater precision so you end up with an artificial limb that fits much more accurately.

When it comes to customising your orthotic or prosthetic device, there are a lot of things that your specialist can alter. This will largely depend on your lifestyle, habits and activities which your healthcare provider will discuss with you to make sure you get the most useful and suitable equipment. 

Do I Need To See My Doctor?

Knowing whether you need to see a doctor because of problems with your limbs can feel confusing. However, if you ever notice that you are losing sensation or experiencing any tingling then it’s really important to speak to a professional. 

Symptoms like this are often brought on from things like walking and spending long periods of time on your feet. Without seeking professional advice, and continuing to take part in these activities, there is a risk that things could get worse. However, if you seek assistance early, your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe an orthotic device to correct the problem before things get out of hand. 

There are some health conditions that come with a risk of losing a limb; diabetes being one of the most common. If you suffer with this condition and find yourself faced with potential amputation, it’s vital that you speak to a prosthetist who will be able to provide you with the most accurate information and advice on choosing a device. 

Final Thoughts

The difference between orthotics and prosthetics is what conditions they are used to treat. Orthotics are designed to improve the function of body parts and limbs whereas prosthetics are designed to replace a missing limb. For this reason, they’re often called artificial limbs. 

If you are concerned about the function of your limbs or have noticed symptoms like a loss of sensation, it’s imperative to seek advice from your doctor who will be able to offer you the most appropriate course of treatment.