The Art of Prosthetics & Orthotics
The art of prosthetics and orthotics is what makes the science valuable. The latest technology would be useless if incorporated into an uncomfortable device. Art is what separates the men from the boys in this profession. This is where experience and a well trained eye is usually more valuable than any measuring tool. At The Ortho Remedy, our clinicians are also artisans who meticulously evaluate each patient to determine strengths, weaknesses, range of motion, desires, potential abilities, motivation and any limits, both physical and financial, before deciding with the patient on a treatment protocol which includes all aspects of design and componentry.
The project begins when a plan is agreed upon by the patient, the practitioner and the referring physician. Art begins when the clinician performs a study of the patient's anatomy which includes an evaluation of alignment, a carefully crafted cast or impression, measurements and/or digitization. He/she will acquire whatever information is necessary to produce a well fitting device. The Ortho Remedy always puts its strongest efforts toward providing a comfortable piece of equipment because we know that maximum comfort means maximum performance and satisfaction. With this information, a positive cast or model is generated in-house in our laboratory. The clinician/artisan then modifies this model to create a customized shape which addresses the pressure tolerant and sensitive areas of each individual. The skill of the artisan during this stage of manufacturing is what determines the comfort and proper fit of any device. Over 80 years of combined experience allows us to consistently produce comfortable equipment for our patients.
The next stage is where a variety of materials are selected depending on structural requirements and formed over the customized model to create a prosthesis or orthosis. It is then demolded, trimmed, polished and assembled with other components. The patient is now scheduled for a fitting. During the fitting, the equipment may be adjusted to optimize the comfort and performance of the device. In most cases, equipment is delivered to the patient after this visit, so that they can practice in their own environment to determine long term effects of usage. The patient is always invited to return as further adjustments or instruction may be necessary. When the patient and the practitioner are satisfied with the fit and function of the device, it can be returned for cosmetic finishing. Maintaining this fit and function is an on-going process. The body changes as a direct result of activity. The prosthesis may need adjustments to accommodate for such anatomical changes. This is why prosthetics and orthotics has been described as reverse engineering. First the device is constructed and then it is tuned to perfection.
Finishing is a process usually performed on prosthetic devices. This is where the artist will create a custom mold matching the shape of the sound limb. This mold is then fitted over the prosthesis to produce the required shape. Urethane foam is then poured into the cavity to produce a soft molded foam cosmetic covering. The mold is then removed; the prosthesis is covered with fabric and impregnated with a vinyl skin coating that matches the color and texture of the patient's contra lateral limb. The skin can be created to include hair, freckles and even tattoos. We can also imbed photographs and any image into the prosthetic skin. If that's not art what is?