How to Become a Prosthetics Technician
Prosthetics technicians, also known as O&P technicians, repair, fit and create artificial joints and limbs. The prosthetics technician has the chance to help patients go back to doing the same things they did before the loss of a limb. In order to become a prosthetics technician there are some basic and advanced requirements that have to be met. Those wishing to enter prosthetics school must first graduate high school or get an equivalency diploma.
Prosthetics education includes gaining experience in the field working as a prosthetics helper in order to assist the technician during routine tasks associated with the position. A formal training program will have to complete which requires a minimum of an associates degree before entering the field of prosthesis technology. There may be the requirement of completing an internship during which time an experienced technician will supervise while students perform basic job duties.
Prosthetics education includes formal training where operating the machinery used to perform the tasks is learned. The ability to follow directions and work with a large variety of people is also acquired during this time. The AAOP or American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists provides certification for those attempting to enter into the prosthetics field. In order to become a prosthetics technician these are the minimum requirements that have to be met.
There are two years of on the job training required that can be obtained by getting job with a prosthetics company. This training will take students to various places to prepare them for a variety of environments in the workforce. Courses in health sciences, psychology, physiology and anatomy are important when preparing for an education in prosthetics. These courses will help students to understand the mechanics behind the artificial limbs that are created and how they will interact with the existing structure of the body.
The evaluation of patients needing artificial limbs in clinics, nursing homes and hospitals will be done during training. The materials used in artificial limbs, the technology used and biomechanics are all things that you should familiarize yourself with while attempting to enter the field of prosthetics.
Prosthetic technicians have to take the measurements, make a cast of the required limb from plaster and get it produced. Each artificial limb has to be designed and fitted to the individual. This means the ability to communicate effectively in order to make patients' needs is adequately met. Attention to detail is a vital asset as the limps are typically covered in latex or rubber and painted to get them the color of the skin giving them a more natural experience. Testing the functioning and adjusting the limbs are part of the job description for the prosthetic technician.
Prosthetics school prepares the potential technicians to perform all of the tasks associated with the job. There has to be a certification or associate degree issued from an accredited institution. In addition to the courses specifically associated with the development of the limbs there should be additional courses such as chemistry, mechanical engineering and wood shop taken to prepare for the position of prosthetics technician.
When you become a prosthetics technician you will have to possess the capability to operate various types of machinery requiring hand eye-coordination be at a high level. Communication skills and the ability to follow detailed instructions will benefit you in the field of prosthetics. It is important to be able to convey the details of the artificial limbs to other staff and patients as well. The salary for prosthetics technicians will vary depending on the amount of education, experience and geographical location. The company that employees the technician can also have an effect on the salary that is earned.