What is Orthotics?
Orthotics is a specialty within the medical field concerned with the design, manufacture and application of orthoses. An orthosis (plural: orthoses) is an orthopedic device that supports or corrects the function of a limb or the torso. An orthopaedic brace, “appliance”, or simply brace is an orthopaedic device used to:
- Control, guide, limit and/or immobilize an extremity, joint or body segment for a particular reason
- To restrict movement in a given direction
- To assist movement generally
- To reduce weight bearing forces for a particular purpose
- To aid rehabilitation from fractures after the removal of a cast
- To otherwise correct the shape and/or function of the body, to provide easier movement capability or reduce pain
It combines disciplines of study within the health and physical sciences; mathematics and materials engineering, gait analysis, anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, biomechanics and psychology contribute to the work of orthotists (professionals in the field of orthotics). Patients benefiting from an orthosis have sustained a physical impairment such as a stroke, spinal cord injury or a congenital abnormality like spina bifida or cerebral palsy. Corrective shoe inserts are popularly known as orthotics. Certified pedorthic practitioners (known as pedorthists) are specialists in foot orthotics (pedorthics). Specialists of foot orthotics are not limited to C-Ped practitioners only.
Orthotics are orthopedic devices that are used to alter or modify foot function and are designed to treat, adjust, and support various biomechanical foot disorders. Some orthotics are simple, commercially-made devices, such as cushioned heel cups or insoles for shoes that are sold over the counter in drug stores or other retail establishments.
The most effective orthotics, however, are custom-made devices that are crafted to meet the specific needs of a particular individual. Custom orthotics are created using an impression of the foot called a cast, which duplicates any misalignments in foot structure. Using the cast and computer technology, technicians in an orthotic laboratory design a device that balances out deformities and corrects misalignments.