What You Need to Know About Orthotics

Orthotics is a term that is referring to the medical specialty which is concerned with the manufacture, application and the design of a device called as orthosis. Orthotics is believed to be a combination of other areas of study, like engineering, anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, and biomechanics. Orthosis is the singular form for the said device, while its plural form is orthoses, and such device can be applied externally to the patient.

An orthosis is primarily manufactured and designed to modify, alter or change the structural and functional aspect of the two bodily systems, namely the neuromuscular system and the skeletal system. The most common uses of the orthoses is to assist the movement of the bones, joint, and muscles in a general manner; to limit the movement, immobilize, control or guide the movement of a body segment, joint and extremity for a specified reason; to correct the function and the shape of the patient’s body part; to provide the patient with an easier movement capability; to reduce the pain felt by the patient; to aid rehabilitation from any fractures after a cast is removed; to reduce the weight bearing forces of the patient; and to restrict movement in a specified direction. The common disorders or health conditions that can gain benefits from using orthoses are spina bifida, cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord injury, peripheral neuropathy, scoliosis, plantar fasciitis, polio, joint laxity or arthritis, and paralysis. The different materials used for the production of orthoses are elastic, EVA or ethylene-vinyl acetate, fabric, thermoplastics, carbon fiber and metals.

The orthoses are classified in three ways, namely the upper-limb orthoses, the spinal orthoses, and the lower-limb orthoses. The term upper-limb can also be called as the upper extremities of a human being, and the orthoses used or designed on the said body part can either be a mechanical one or an electromechanical one, and it is being applied or attached to the arm and the segments of the arm of the patient. The different examples of the upper-limb orthoses are the elbow orthoses, hand orthoses, forearm-wrist-hand orthoses, forearm-wrist orthoses, forearm-wrist-thumb orthoses, functional arm orthoses, arm orthoses, and clavicular and shoulder orthoses. The examples of the spinal orthoses are the Charleston bending brace, the Milwaukee brace, and the Boston brace; and this is being used for the condition wherein there is an abnormal curvature of the spine, and spinal fractures. The foot, the knee and the ankle is basically referring to the lower extremities of an individual, and this can also be called as lower-limb. There are basically a lot of different examples of the lower-limb orthoses, namely the KAFOs or the knee-ankle-foot orthosis, the ankle-foot orthosis, the foot orthoses, the KO or the knee orthosis, and the prophylactic braces.

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