A certified orthotist/prosthetist goes through rigorous training and education to earn their accreditation as a healthcare professional and the title of a CO or CPO. They often earn a bachelor’s degree in health sciences or engineering and complete many prerequisites before pursuing a full time master’s degree from a CAAHEP accredited program in O&P where they take a coursework full of anatomy, biomechanics, and clinical assessment classes directly related to orthoses and prostheses.
Clinicians are required to complete one year of residency in their chosen discipline(s) and have to pass multiple national certification exams from the American Board for Certification of Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. It’s safe to say that these certified healthcare professionals undergo intensive training to provide clinical services and treatment plans to prosthetic and orthotic patients. Clinicians are required to participate in routine continuing education courses to keep up with the advances of technology within the field.
When a patient receives a prescription from a physician, they are referred to meet with a prosthetist/orthotist, a qualified specialist. During evaluation visits, COs or CPOs make assessments of patients that consist of analyzing how different body parts move during the gait cycle and real-life demands of patients with limb loss and limb difference. They ultimately bring together a myriad of information to formulate a treatment plan to outfit the patient with the best orthotic device or artificial limb.
Patients receive high quality of care when they see a CO or CPO. The O&P clinician is working in conjunction with physical therapists, occupational therapists, prescribing physicians, and other team members to create a long-term care plan for each patient. It is therefore crucial to work with an Orthotist / Prosthetist when dealing with orthotics and prosthetics to ensure that the patient receives appropriate care from the collaborative healthcare team to treat them as a whole person and not just for their symptoms.
In contrast to the current O&P care model, there have been discussions and products within the community that support a direct-to-consumer model. These models rely on technology to support prosthetic and orthotic patient care. This is a huge risk to the patient because there is not a health care professional involved, which can create short term and long term issues for the patient.
Specifically, without a certified prosthetist or orthotist, the patient is relying on their own skills to diagnose and treat themselves which eliminates the trained professional that can truly customize and help the needs for each individual patient. Safety is a huge issue with direct to consumer models as well as a reliance on the patient or the caregiver to assess, order, deliver, fit and pay for the service needed.
At Elevate, we value the Prosthetists / Orthotists role in the health care professional field. We understand the years of education and training that Orthotists/Prosthetists go through to become certified, and the knowledge and experience they acquire which is indispensable. We will always support Orthotists / Prosthetists and will continue to make sure that we do our part to support this community.
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