Orthotics is a medical specialty that focuses on the design and application of orthoses. An orthosis is an externally applied device used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system.
An orthosis has many different functions:
– Control, guide, limit, and/or immobilize an extremity, joint or body segment for a particular reason
– Restrict movement in a given direction
– Assist movement generally
– Reduce weight-bearing forces for a particular purpose
– Aid rehabilitation from fractures after the removal of a cast
– Otherwise, correct the shape and/or function of the body, to provide easier movement capability or reduce pain
– Treating contracture and prevention of several other conditions
Patients who benefit from an orthosis may have a condition such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy or have experienced a spinal cord injury or stroke. Aside from treating conditions, orthoses are also used to optimize performance in sport.