An orthosis is an orthopedic prosthesis that encloses a body part to relieve and immobilize it. Orthoses are often used after sports injuries such as a torn ligament or in the case of illnesses, where they are intended to support the healing process. You can immobilize an ankle or hold a knee at a certain angle. In contrast to a prosthesis, orthoses do not entirely replace a part of the body but stabilize it with splints and bandages. The term orthosis is derived from “orthos” and means: right, right, upright. Orthoses are used in orthopedics, the field of medicine that deals with the theory of upright walking and, in a broader sense, includes the entire musculoskeletal system.
When And For What Do I Need Orthoses?
Orthoses are as varied in their form as the body regions intended to relieve, fix or support. You need an orthosis in these cases:
- For sudden, acute pain after injuries
- For chronic, long-term illnesses
- In the case of physical damage and paralysis already present from birth, such as specific foot, hip, and spinal deformities
What Functions Do Orthoses Fulfill?
- Immobilization and relief after acute injuries
- Stabilization of the damaged joint, bone, or body part
- Targeted guidance and correction of malposition or bad posture
- Fix physical damage
This Is How Orthoses Prevent Chronic Damage
As described in the article on osteoarthritis, there is a risk that injuries can lead to chronic damage, for example, if a joint in the limb is loaded too early or incorrectly. However, damage can also be caused by immobilization for too long. Injuries to the hand and finger joints, for example, threaten to stiffen quickly and therefore need treatment that enables and promotes a gradual increase in mobility. A patient with a critical spinal injury, on the other hand, who has to remain on bed rest in the hospital, will only benefit from a rigid orthosis that ensures stable positioning of his back.
How Are Orthoses Made?
Whether foot, knee, or lower leg orthoses – the manufacturer is part of the specialists in the medical supply trade, especially the orthopedic technicians, who also include specialized shoemakers. They manufacture an individual orthosis.
That’s how it’s done:
- A plaster cast is taken
- The orthosis is reproduced using the plaster cast
- A specialist shows how the orthosis is put on correctly
- If necessary, the orthosis will be adjusted and additionally padded
What Material Are Orthoses Made Of?
An orthosis by PrimeCare’s pediatric orthotics for example can be made of different materials, mostly plastic, metal, or silicone. As a rule, they are often constructed in a complex manner, for example, using splints, cords, and straps with Velcro fasteners, the aim being to stabilize the damaged body part as best as possible. Therefore, the amount of tissue that some orthoses have is tighter than the tissue of bandages. Overall, they restrict the freedom of movement more. In addition to the handmade orthoses, there are also industrially manufactured orthoses that serve their purpose well. However, these also belong in expert hands first so that they can be adjusted correctly and no pressure points arise.