Prosthetic, Prosthesis, and Prostheses. What’s the Difference?

Posted on: June 9th, 2015 by JPO Blogger
Learning O & P jargon can help you stay informed and get the most out of each doctor appointment.

Learning O & P jargon can help you stay informed and get the most out of each doctor appointment.

Similar to all branches of medical services, prosthetic and orthotic providers use a somewhat specialized vocabulary when referring to the work that we do.  Those who work with prosthetics and orthotics are probably familiar with the “jargon” that is used, but most folks are not.

Take prosthetic, for example. It will come as a surprise to many people that this word is not a noun! It is correctly used only as an adjective, as in prosthetic rehabilitation. The proper term for what was generally called an “artificial limb” is a prosthesis…not a “prosthetic.” Similarly, an orthotic device (popularly termed a “brace” in past times) is correctly termed an orthosis.

Adding further confusion to the discussion are the words prosthetics and orthotics, which are nouns.  They refer to the science and practice of providing prostheses and orthoses (plural versions of prosthesis and orthosis).

If we haven’t lost you yet, we may lose you shortly!  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 (hand, fingers, toes) due to congenital or acquired limb loss.

And finally, while the correct term for a molded shoe insert is technically called a foot orthosis, that particular product is often called an “orthotic”.

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.

With JP&O, our goal is to take the complexity out of prosthetics and orthotics.  We can provide you with support, information and any needs that you or your family may have!

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.