Ask the Orthotist

Q: What is an Orthosis?

A: An orthosis is a custom made or prefabricated device which is used to support a weakened limb, improve movement or prevent deformity. An orthosis can be made for any part of the body, from simple foot orthotics to spinal bracing or helmets. It can be made of a variety of materials including plastic, carbon fiber or fabric.

Orthoses can support the healing of a body part by providing relief. This also applies after (sports) injuries to ligaments, joints, or bones. In case of injuries that do not heal, orthoses provide relief by supporting the affected body part. They can partially compensate for lost functions and help prevent subsequent damages – caused by incorrect posture or positioning – and wear of affected body parts.

Q: How do I get an Orthosis?

A: If you do not have an orthosis, but feel you might benefit from one, you will want to discuss this with your physician at your next appointment. They may write you a prescription for an orthosis.

If you already have an orthosis, but you feel it may require replacement due to wear and deterioration you can do one of two things.

  1. )  Schedule an appointment with your orthotist so they can either refurbish the current orthosis or verify that you need a replacement. If it needs to be replaced, and you haven’t seen your physician recently, you will need to contact your physician in order to get a prescription.
  2. )  See your physician and request a new prescription. Then call your orthotist and schedule an appointment. Once you have a prescription for an orthosis you can call our offices and schedule an appointment.

Q. What should I expect when I show up for my appointment?

A: One of our orthotists will perform an evaluation and discuss orthotic options available. After a treatment plan is agreed upon, the part of the body requiring an orthosis may be molded by the orthotist and/or measured. If you are coming in for an orthosis for your knee, bring shorts so that a mold or measurement may be taken higher on the thigh. If a prefabricated device is decided on as the treatment, you will either be measured (if we don’t stock the item) or fit (if we do) with the device at the first appointment.

Q: How long after my first appointment until I get the orthotic?

A: This varies depending on the type of device you will be getting. Typically, we require 2 weeks for custom devices including foot orthoses, ankle foot orthoses or spinal orthoses. If it requires less or more time than this the orthotist will tell you this at the initial appointment.

Q: Will it fit into my shoe?

A: This depends on the type of orthosis you receive and the type of shoes you wear. For foot orthoses, ankle foot orthoses, or knee ankle foot orthoses we recommend a sturdy shoe preferably with a tongue and means of loosening/tightening. They should not be open back shoes. If you have concerns with shoe wear discuss this with your orthotist.

Q: What if I have an area that is uncomfortable?

A: If there is discomfort after your orthosis is delivered, call our office and schedule an appointment for adjustment. Many times it is a quick adjustment to make the orthosis more comfortable for you.

Q: How often should I see my orthotist?

A: The typical timelines for appointments include the initial evaluation appointment, two weeks later a delivery appointment, and a two week follow-up appointment. If there are concerns with fit/function, we may schedule additional follow-up appointments. You should schedule routine follow-up appointments with your orthotist yearly so the condition of your orthosis can be assessed and repaired if need be.

Q: I have drop foot, could an orthosis help me?

A: There are various orthotic treatments for drop foot. Depending on the condition of your other muscle groups and joints, you may benefit from a simple low profile ankle foot orthosis which will assist with your toe clearance during the swing phase of gait, but is still flexible enough so that it does not effect the rest of your gait. Talk to your physician to determine if an orthosis is right for you.

Q: My child has scoliosis, what should we expect?

A: Scoliosis is a not uncommon diagnosis in adolescents and pre-teens. There are various orthotic treatments we use for idiopathic scoliosis. We will discuss these options and evaluate your son/daughter to determine which option would be most effective for their curve type. When you are coming in for an initial evaluation, make sure you bring your prescription, most recent X-rays and either a sports bra or bikini top and a snug fitting pair of shorts or bottoms to a swimsuit.

After a treatment plan is formed and necessary measurements are taken, we will schedule a 1.5-2 week delivery appointment. We will also coordinate an appointment with the physician for in-brace X-rays. This may be coordinated with the delivery or follow-up appointment.

We will be seeing your child every 4-6 months for follow-up, adjustments and X-rays with the physician. When it is about 1 month before you are supposed to be seeing the physician for another x-ray, give our office a call. We will coordinate this appointment with the physician.

Ask The Orthotist

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