Orthotics and Prosthetics:
Make a Career of Making a Difference

What is Orthotics?

Mother holding a baby with a correctional helmet for its plagiocephaly

Orthotics is the evaluation, fabrication, and custom fitting of orthopedic braces, known as "orthoses." Orthotics combines knowledge of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, biomechanics, and engineering.

Orthoses are externally applied devices used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system. An orthosis may be used to:

Young woman with a knee brace bouncing a soccer ball from her knee
  • Control, guide, limit, or immobilize a limb, joint, or body segment.
  • To restrict movement in a given direction.
  • To assist movement.
  • To reduce weight bearing forces.
  • To aid rehabilitation from fractures after the removal of a cast.
  • To correct the shape and function of a part of the body.
  • To reduce pain.
  • To optimize performance in sports.
A practitioner showing a teenage girl hot to put on her body brace

Orthotic patients need external support to a part of the body because of neuromuscular or skeletal conditions such as cerebral palsy, scoliosis, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, stroke, plagiocephaly, multiple sclerosis, sports injuries, and back strain. Other patients may require orthoses because they have foot conditions as a consequence of diabetes, high or flat arches, or repetitive stress.

An orthotist is the primary clinician responsible for the prescription, manufacture, and management of orthoses. Other orthotic professionals include orthotic fitters, technicians, and assistants.