Toning the bones
Physically handicapped individuals need much more attention than normal people. These individual suffer from limb malfunctions or abnormalities or absence or loss of limbs or other body parts. The health care profession which deals with rehabilitation of physically handicapped individuals is known as Prosthetics and Orthotics. Prosthetists and Orthotists are professionals who help people suffering from neuromotor and musculoskeletal disorders to lead an ordinary life by using their skills and highly developed medical technology. They often work as a part of multi-skilled teams. Their patrons’ ranges from small children to adults and elderly population afflicted from age-related injuries and illnesses.
Loss of limb or body part may be the result of accidents or diseases like diabetes. Many a times these individuals are born with limbs missing. A Prosthesis, or what is commonly known as an artificial limb is an extension or replacement of a missing or damaged body part. It can be an artificial leg, an entire hand or just the palms of hands or feet etc. Those professionals who deal with prosthesis are called Prosthetists.
In Orthosis is a mechanism which can give support to weak limbs or help to correct a deformity. Such devices include braces, splints and special footwear which assist movement and tend to lessen the amount of discomfort. Orthotists are professionals concerned with manufacture and fitting of Orthosis.
They work as a team with orthopedics, physiatrists and other medical professionals. They need to be well trained to handle such individuals.
For development of prosthetic and orthotic in India the Indian Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists is a professional organization formed in 1987. It works towards making people aware of the diverse orthotic and prosthetic practices and thereby reduces quackery. It coordinates with the Rehabilitation Council of India, international organizations like the International Society for prosthetics and orthotics, institutions and universities for short-term courses and research.
For admission to bachelors’ degree course in prosthetics and orthotics the candidates must have cleared 10 + 2 with Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Biology. The minimum educational requirement to become a prosthetist and orthotist is a four and half year degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics from a recognized university. After graduation, in order to practice as prosthetist and orthotist in India candidates must register with Rehabilitation Council of India. Candidates with diploma qualifications are employed as technicians. The diploma courses are usually of two years duration.
The nature of work of a prosthetist and orthotist involves various stages. To start with a P&O professional works as part of a clinical team which comprises of orthopedics, physiatrists, nurses and related medical professionals. They have to study records and reports of a patient regarding the suitable orthotic/ prosthetic aid required and then have to communicate appropriate information regarding this to the patients and their families. P&O professional work in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, work room and fitting rooms, device manufacturing companies, rehabilitation departments of hospitals and government agencies, ambulatory care services and special treatment facilities like arthritis centers. Teaching and research and development are other options available to them.
Orthotists and Prosthetists usually get a basic pay in the range of Rs 4000-7000 initially plus other allowance. Those with experience and better qualification can earn upwards of Rs10000. Orthotic and Prosthetic Technicians have a pay range of Rs 4000- 6000 per month. Those in teaching field have salaries according to UGC norms.
Most of the medical colleges in the country offer course in Orthotic and Prosthetic.