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Qualifications for O&P Care Providers

O&P care is often confused with durable medical equipment (“DME”) but the two fields are actually very different. O&P care is highly clinical and service-oriented, requiring a high level of education, training, and skill. All prosthetics and most orthotics are designed, fabricated and fit to meet the unique needs of O&P patients. This level of customization is very different from the field DME. Quality orthotic and prosthetic care is practiced by qualified professionals. A certified orthotist or prosthetist must meet the following criteria:

  • Baccalaureate degree in orthotics or prosthetics from an accredited education institution, or Baccalaureate degree and post-Baccalaureate certificate program in orthotics or prosthetics accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and state licensure, if appropriate;
    • O&P education is transitioning toward a Master’s Degree requirement
    • Five programs already require a Master’s Degree
  • One-year clinical residency program under a duly certified professional in each specific discipline of study at a residency site accredited by the National Commission of Orthotic and Prosthetic Education;
  • Completion of a series of national certification examinations; and
  • Mandatory continuing education for certification (orthotists and prosthetists must obtain 75 continuing education units (CEUs) every five years to maintain their board certification).

Members of the O&P profession play an important role in returning people to functional, fulfilling lives through the services they provide. Their specialized care is unique beyond the service aspect, in that the devices provided become a vital part of the patient’s ability to remain functional and independent on a daily basis. Orthotists and prosthetists work closely with physicians boarded in physiatry, family practice, pediatrics, neurology, and endocrinology as well as orthopedic, plastic, and vascular surgeons. Other members of the rehabilitation team include physical therapists, occupational therapists and other providers of care.

The orthotist or prosthetist remains involved throughout the rehabilitation process with necessary follow up visits for patient training in the proper use of the device or for adjustments to the O&P device as the patient’s condition changes. Modifications to the orthosis/prosthesis are often necessary with all patients but are usually more frequent with new patients as physiological changes can occur rapidly. This post-fitting care enhances the potential for patients to function at their highest possible level on an ongoing basis by ensuring that prostheses and orthoses are continually adapted to meet the changing functional and clinical needs of patients as they progress through rehabilitation and, ultimately, through life. Click here for our source.