Prosthetists are qualified to fit artificial limbs, called prostheses, to replace arms and legs lost through amputation or those missing at birth. They work with other healthcare professionals, such as prosthetic technicians to design and fit prostheses. Prosthetists also advise on aftercare and rehabilitation.
Orthotists provide care for people who need externally applied devices to provide support to limbs and the spine, or to control part of their body due to paralysed muscles. Orthotists assess their patient’s condition using the latest technologies and prescribe support aids called orthoses to meet their needs. The patient may need to wear the orthoses temporarily or permanently, depending on their condition.
My name's Emma O'Neill. I'm an Orthotist for the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.
We basically diagnose and assess patient's functional loss, or whatever they're needing. It's the whole body, so it's diagnosing whether they've got pain, what's causing the pain, or if they need help walking, or whatever it is they need and then prescribing them something to wear to increase their function.
I think the most important skill to have for the job is communication. Usually, patients don't know what orthotics is. They've never heard of it, so it's really going through the whole treatment plan with them and communicating well with them.
[Also important are] problem-solving skills. Not one thing will always treat the patient, so something that works for someone will have to be altered for another person. It's quite like DIY, making things and just trying to turn something out of nothing. But, I also like the science side of it, so I ventured towards different health professions and trying to help people, but this was great because I got to use my manual side as well. So, then I found out about the course, that's what drew me to it.
I tend to like the out-patient clinics. There's a lot of problem solving and challenges with new patients. So, it's nice to have something different what walks into the clinic and problem-solve around that and what you want to do with the patient.
I know I make a difference with patients. They usually come in, in a bit of pain, or they've got weakness in say, they can't use a leg, so it's making them something to improve that and improve their activity levels or reduce their pain, or whatever we want to do. It's nice to see them from review to review, getting better all the time. I know I make that difference.