Prosthetics programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Possible program titles include prosthetics technology, orthotics and prosthetics technology, or prosthetics and orthotics. At the graduate level, students may require certain prerequisites to get accepted into programs. Related medical, science, and other healthcare degree programs may have prosthetic courses as well. Additionally, there are continuing education and certificate programs available in this field.
Prosthetic degree and certificate programs often require a clinical practicum, which allows students to gain some real-world experience working with patients in need of prosthetics. During the final stages of a degree program in this field, students may choose a specialty, such as pediatrics or lower limbs.
Coursework covers such topics as:
- Rehabilitation strategies
- Prosthetic care and design
- Human anatomy
- Prosthetic material fabrication
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List of Courses
Prosthetics and Rehabilitation Course
Most prosthetics degree programs begin with an introductory course in prosthetics. The course explores the delivery of prosthetic care as it relates to the rehabilitation process. Introductory prosthetics courses often include units on the materials and technology used to manufacture custom prostheses. Instructors also show students proper safety and operating procedures in the laboratory.
Before prosthetics students can design and secure prostheses onto patients, they must first have a firm grasp of biomechanics, a topic that deals with the forces that affect body movements. In these classes, students develop an understanding of basic engineering principles as they apply to the body and prosthetic applications. Instructors teach students to use biomechanical measurement instruments to measure human movement.
Upper Extremity Course
Upper extremity prosthetics courses prepare students to work with patients who need prosthetics for upper extremity amputations. Course lectures focus on human anatomy, biomechanics and prosthetic design principles as they pertain to prosthetic management of the upper limbs. Students will learn to measure, draw and manufacture prostheses that fit securely on patients' wrists, hands, elbows and shoulders. Students are then taught to evaluate the functionality of the prostheses and make adjustments as needed.
Lower Extremity Course
Lower extremity prosthetics courses are designed to make students familiar with the anatomy and biomechanics of the lower body so that they can design effective prostheses. Courses usually combine lectures and lab work to give students a strong understanding of both the theoretical and technical aspects of designing lower limb prostheses. Students evaluate patient needs and take measurements before drawing and eventually building prostheses for feet, ankles, knees and hips.
Nearly every prosthetics degree program requires students to complete a clinical experience. The experience allows students to apply the skills and knowledge they acquired in classroom study and lab work in a professional environment. Students also benefit from observation and instructions from the working prosthetics professionals who supervise them. Depending on the program, students may complete their clinical work in a general practice setting or a more specialized environment that deals solely with upper or lower limb prosthetics or pediatrics.