What’s the Difference Between Orthotics and Prosthetics

Two views of prosthetic legs isolated on whiteThere are many reasons why people might require assistive devices such as orthotics & prosthetics. If you are new to these devices, there are some things that you should know, particularly surrounding the difference between the two. The major difference between orthotics and prosthetics is that while an orthotic device is used to enhance a person’s limb, a prosthetic device is used to replace a limb entirely.

Orthotics Defined

Orthoses refer to the devices used to correct or enhance the use of part of your body. Orthotics are commonly prescribed by orthotists and prosthetists to people who have difficulty using their arms or legs due to deficiencies or deformities in a person’s body. Orthotic devices provide comfort and healing to the limb by reducing shock, and decrease inflammation and swelling.

Prosthetics Defined

A prosthesis is an artificial limb prescribed by a prosthetist to replace a limb on a person’s body. Advanced technology has made it possible for people who are absent any of their limbs to continue life as they usually would. Most patients who require prosthetic devices typically need them as a result of injury or a birth defect, although certain conditions such as diabetes can increase a person’s likelihood of losing a limb and requiring a prosthetic device.

What Are Each Used For?

Both are often prescribed to patients who suffer from similar conditions. For example, people who have diabetes will often require the use of orthotics at some point in their life due to complications related to this condition. There are many times, however, when despite the person’s best efforts, their foot needs to be amputated, and they will be prescribed a prosthetic device.

When to Call a Professional

If you find that you are losing sensation in any of your limbs, contact a professional orthotist or prosthetist about your options. In many cases, certain conditions are aggravated by long hours of standing or walking. If you continue to work or behave as you normally would without seeing a professional, conditions are likely to continue to get worse and you may even require a prosthetic device. It is best to make sure that you take care of the problem as soon as you can.