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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 common uses of the different orthoses is to restrict movement in a specified direction; 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; as well as, to reduce the weight bearing forces of the patient. 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 various materials that are commonly used in the production and design of orthoses are fabric, thermoplastics, carbon fiber, metals, elastic, and EVA or ethylene-vinyl acetate.

There are basically three different classifications of orthoses, namely the lower-limb orthoses, the upper-limb orthoses, and the spinal 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 various examples of the upper-limb orthoses are the hand orthoses, forearm-wrist-hand orthoses, forearm-wrist orthoses, forearm-wrist-thumb orthoses, functional arm orthoses, arm orthoses, clavicular and shoulder orthoses, and the elbow orthoses. The Charleston bending brace, the Milwaukee brace, and the Boston brace is the three common examples of the spinal orthoses, and it is designed for the disorder or the condition like scoliosis and fractures of the spine. The term that refers to the lower extremities of an individual is lower-limb, and that include the ankle, the foot and the knee. The different examples of the lower-limb orthoses are the ankle-foot orthosis, the foot orthoses, the KO or the knee orthosis, the prophylactic braces, and the KAFOs or the knee-ankle-foot orthosis.

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