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Prosthetics Training Programs and Requirements

Prosthetics is a medical field that focuses on the manufacturing and fitting of artificial limbs. Students training to be prosthetists study topics such as biomechanics and gait analysis, and they learn to help patients use and adjust to life with an artificial limb. Students can expect to do supervised, clinical work during their degree program and complete a year-long residency from an institution accredited by The National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE).

Essential Information

The field offers a variety of career options, including prosthetics fitters, assistants, technicians and, most commonly, general prosthetist practitioner or prosthetist. Most prosthetists hold bachelor's degrees or higher in the field from accredited colleges or universities. Certification is available for those who have completed education and training requirements. Associate's degrees are available for students interested in working as a prosthetic technician.

  • Program Levels in Prosthetics: Associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent for bachelor's degree; master's degree candidates need a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field
  • Program Length: Four years for bachelor's degree, two years for master's degree
  • Other Requirements: One-year residency program; extended research project required for master's degree

Bachelor of Applied Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics

A bachelor's degree program in prosthetics and Orthotics introduces students to the basic skills associated with the work of a prosthetist. General education classes are required, along with core degree-related topics such as:

  • Biomechanics
  • Gait analysis
  • Transtibial prosthetics

Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics

A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics is a 2-year, graduate degree program that offers students advanced study and research opportunities. Courses may address topics such as:

  • Transfemoral prosthetics
  • Lower limb orthotics and
  • Spinal orthotics

Licenses and Certifications

Prosthetists can pursue certification through The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC). This requires completion of a bachelor's degree in prosthetics from an institution with accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Students who hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field can pursue a CAAHEP-accredited post-graduate orthotics or prosthetics certificate. A 12-month residency and written examinations are also required for this professional certification. In order to maintain certification, prosthetists are required to complete 75 hours of continuing education every five years.

Continuing Education

A variety of workshops and continuing education classes are available to professionals working in the field of prosthetics. Advances in prosthetic technology, which are common, may be addressed in such seminars. Other topics may be covered in professional workshops, including prosthetics cost control and extended patient care, as well as tips on how to help patients adjust to life with a prosthesis. Courses on subjects such as upper extremity prosthetics and exercise physiology for rehabilitation might be available at local colleges or health organizations.

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