Like our counterparts in other medical specialties, prosthetists and orthotists use a specialized vocabulary pertaining to the work they do. These terms tend to be confusing to some folks and Premier Prosthetics wants to help you understand some of the common O & P jargon.
It will come as a surprise to more than a few people that the word prosthetic is not a noun! It is correctly used only as an adjective, as in prosthetic rehabilitation. The proper term for what in past times was generally called an “artificial limb” is a prosthesis (pl. prostheses) …not a “prosthetic.” Similarly, an orthotic device is correctly termed an orthosis (pl. orthoses).
Adding further confusion to the discussion are the words prosthetics and orthotics, which are nouns, as they refer to the science and practice of providing prostheses and orthoses. (Prosthetics are not more than one replacement limb, nor are orthotics two or more orthopedic braces.)
And finally, the individuals who provide prostheses and orthoses: An orthotist is a practitioner who measures, designs, fabricates, fits and services orthoses to support or correct disabilities. Likewise, a prosthetist is a practitioner who measures, designs, fabricates, fits and services prostheses for replacement of a missing limb or appendage due to congenital or acquired limb loss.
A few other terms pertinent to our specialties:
O&P (or P&O) – Widely used abbreviation for orthotics and prosthetics.
Pedorthist – An individual trained in the manufacturing, fitting and modification of foot appliances and footwear for the purposes of alleviating painful or debilitating conditions of the lower limb.
Rehabilitation Team – A group of allied health care professionals that frequently includes physician, surgeon, orthotist/prosthetist, physical and/or occupational therapist, social worker and counselor assembled to help a debilitated individual regain a functional life.
We hope that this helps you better understand the language of O & P. Knowing the correct terms can help you get to most out of each visit with your prosthetist or orthostist. Contact Premier Prosthetics today with any questions you may have!