The Difference Between Orthotics and Prosthetics

The terms orthotics and prosthetics often get confused or even used interchangeably by patients, but they’re not the same. Orthotics and prosthetics are both used to help people with medical issues, but they’re two groups of entirely different devices.

Continue reading to learn more about orthotics and prosthetics, the differences between them and how they’re used.

Orthotics defined

Orthoses are devices used to help patients with difficulty moving their limbs or other body parts. The primary purpose of an orthotic is to enhance or correct a body part that doesn’t function as it should. When fitted properly, orthotics can reduce stress on a body part and allow them to heal without inflammation or discomfort.

Spinal orthoses are commonly used for patients with back issues caused by scoliosis, while foot orthotics can be used as shoe insoles. Many arm, wrist, knee or ankle braces can also be considered orthotics.

Prosthetics defined

Where orthoses assist body parts, prostheses are artificial replacements for missing body parts. If someone lacks an arm or leg due to amputation or congenital disorder, they can have a prosthetic limb created as a replacement.

Prostheses have become extremely technologically advanced over the past few decades. The newest types of prostheses provide patients with a high level of functionality, allowing them to perform a variety of actions and compete in all sorts of events that would have otherwise been impossible.

A perfect fit

Both orthoses and prostheses can be custom made to meet a patient’s exact measurements. Custom-tailoring each orthotic or prosthetic for each patient allows patients to go on living their daily lives, even with their orthotic or prosthetic. For example, avid runners can have a prosthetic running leg made that makes it possible to continue their favorite activity without pain or being held back.

When should you call a professional for help?

Knowing when to talk to an orthotist or prosthetist is just as important as knowing what the different devices are. Here are a few scenarios in which you should talk to a professional:

  • Diabetes complications: Many patients need their prostheses due to losing a limb as a result of diabetes. If you have diabetes and your condition is worsening, talking to a prosthetist sooner rather than later is in your best interest. These professionals can give you guidance on what to expect or even start planning a prosthetic for you.
  • Loss of sensation: A sudden or gradual loss of sensation in a limb, finger or toe should never be ignored. In fact, this could be one of the first symptoms of a completely preventable issue. An orthotist will work with you to create a device that helps treat these symptoms before a prosthetic is needed.

Talk to our team today

If you or a family member need a prosthetic or orthotic, turn to our professionals at Prothotic Laboratories, Inc. We use advanced technology at our on-site lab to manufacture all of our products. Call us today to get a consultation or to learn more about orthotics.