Orthotic & Prosthetic Technician

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technician Training

Orthotics and Prosthetics are the rapidly changing fields involving the fabrication of orthopedic braces and artificial limbs. This industry provides vital services to the rehabilitation medicine community and to individuals with disabilities, including veterans, persons with vascular diseases, and diabetics.

Orthotics is the designing, fitting and manufacturing of orthopedic braces for individuals with disabling conditions of the spine and extremities. Prosthetics is the designing, fitting and manufacturing of artificial limbs for people with limb loss. These individual disciplines are traditionally combined as a single industry because they share similar scientific backgrounds and manufacturing processes.

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technicians

Technicians in the industry work with plastic, metal, plaster, and leather to fabricate orthotic and prosthetic devices according to measurements and prescription requirements under the supervision of a certified prosthetist or orthotist.

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technicians

Successful technicians need to have:

  • good manual dexterity
  • artistic perception
  • strong communication skills
  • working knowledge of measurements, basic mathematics, and human anatomy
  • the ability to use power tools
  • flexibility to adapt to constantly changing situations

This profession is unique and rewarding to those who wish to make a difference in the lives of others.

O&P technician work includes routine maintenance and repair of prostheses and orthoses, maintaining equipment, and assisting in the design of complex devices. Much like other light manufacturing environments, technicians are generally on their feet most of the day and typically work regular daytime hours, Monday through Friday.

Successful completion of the formal training program qualifies technicians for job opportunities in orthotic and prosthetic clinics, central fabrication facilities, hospitals, and government agencies throughout the country. The SFCC technician programs have a strong placement rate and students have acquired professional positions in practices and facilities from coast to coast.

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technicians

Salaries for technicians vary greatly depending upon the area of the country, the size of the practice or facility, and the experience and ambition of the individual technician. Entry-level salaries typically range from $14 - $17 an hour with salary increases based on a technician's attitude, ambitions, and ability to increase and expand the fundamental skills acquired in the SFCC program. Benefits are usually provided.

The Spokane Falls Community College Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician Programs are accredited by the National Commission of Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) www.ncope.org.

Further information about compensation and demand may be found at O*Net Online.

Program Support

If you are interested in further exploring the SFCC Orthotic and Prosthetic Technology Programs, please contact the Orthotics Prosthetics Program Coordinator. This program has a specialized entry process and an individual interview is required.

Phone (509) 533-3732
Email Clay.Wright@sfcc.spokane.edu
Address Orthotics & Prosthetics - MS 3190 
Spokane Falls Community College
3410 West Fort George Wright Drive
Spokane, WA  99224-5288

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technicians

Spokane Falls Community College offers the only Orthotic and Prosthetic technician training programs in the western United States. Students are trained in the basic skills of making orthopedic braces and artificial limbs in a two-year competency-based program. Each discipline, orthotics and prosthetics, includes three quarters of study and lab work plus an off-site, five-week clinical experience.

Students in the orthotics program take courses in the use of power tools, materials, and human anatomy. They develop skills in modifying shoes and fabricating upper limb, lower limb, and spinal orthoses. Students in the prosthetics program also learn the proper use of hand and power tools and materials. They take courses in human anatomy, below-knee and above-knee prosthetics, followed by below-elbow and above-elbow prosthetics. The O&P technician training programs give students the opportunity to work in an environment similar to the actual practice while gaining hands-on experience. The average student/faculty ratio is 15:1.

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technicians

The programs are taught in a competency-based format in which each student works with reasonable independence utilizing numerous learning resources, and individual and group instruction. Competency-based learning allows students to progress as they learn mastery of academic content and fabrication techniques.

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technicians

The orthotic and prosthetic lab has 9,000 square feet of space including individual workstations for 32 students. Surrounding the main lab space are multiple rooms filled with specialized tools and equipment. The adjoining 1,200-square foot classroom is used for lectures and guest speaker presentations.

Following three quarters of formal classroom training, students participate in a five-week clinical experience, sometimes in another city, to practice fabrication skills under the supervision of a certified orthotic or prosthetic practitioner.

While most college programs start in the fall quarter, students may enter the O&P programs in the fall, winter, or spring quarter. Students usually finish the program two years from their starting date. Orthotic and prosthetics classes are not conducted during the summer.

Orthotic & Prosthetic Technicians

The Orthotic-Prosthetic Technician programs are housed in the Technical Arts Building on the campus of Spokane Falls Community College. Students train in a 9,000-square foot laboratory designed to closely duplicate a large, state-of-the-art O&P facility. The main lab contains individual workstations and is surrounded by specialized rooms that house equipment specific to the fabrication process. The adjoining 1,200-square foot classroom is used for course lectures and guest speaker presentations

Main Lab

Image of Main Lab

The 2,800-square foot main lab provides abundant room for each student to work and learn in a safe, well-lit environment. Each student has his/her own workstation consisting of a rock maple workbench, appropriate vises and bending fixtures, and alignment equipment. Storage lockers are provided for projects and personal belongings.

Plaster Room

Image of Plaster Room

The plaster room is a large, bright work area where students build plaster forms called "positive models" that are used for creating many kinds of orthoses and nearly all prostheses.

Metal Fabrication Room

Image of Metal Fabrication Room Students learn how to use power equipment for fabricating, modifying and finishing metal components in the metal fabrication room. Equipment includes drill presses, grinders and buffers, bead blasters, and band saws with duplicate machines so students don’t have to wait for access. The room is large with generous space between each piece of equipment for a safe work setting.

Sanding Room

Image of Sanding Room The sanding room is equipped with machinery used to trim and polish plastics for braces and limbs and to shape prostheses. In addition to normal shop equipment, there are six socket routers specifically built for the orthotics and prosthetics industry. A high volume dust collector reduces particulates in the air for healthier breathing.

Plastic Room

Image of Plastic Room In the plastic room students learn to fabricate limbs and braces using laminates, resins and vacuum-formed thermoplastics. Two large convection ovens and an infrared oven allow students to heat the plastics used for molding orthopedic braces. There are numerous vacuum stations for laminations and an excellent ventilation system to help control fumes from the plastic resins.

Sewing Room

Image of Sewing Room The sewing room is used to produce leather and fabric components that are used on braces and prosthetic limbs. Belts, straps, and suspension components used to secure devices are custom made for each patient. This area is also used to perform shoe modifications for adaptation to orthotic components. The room contains large work tables and industrial sewing machines.

Computer Lab

Image of Computer Lab The Competency-Based Education lab is available for students to access multi-media learning resources as part of the O&P curriculum. Students also use this area for taking quizzes, tests, and accessing the Internet for research.

Classroom 110

Image of Computer Lab

This 1,200-square foot classroom is used for course lectures and guest speaker presentations.

Newsletter Pages Illustration

Read the quarterly newsletter to learn more about developments and events in the Orthotic and Prosthetic Programs at SFCC.

Continuing Education Credit Opportunities

Hewey, Bernard; Instructor (Department Chair)

Hewey, Bernard; Instructor (Department Chair) Office: 19-104K

Phone: (509) 533-3733

Email: Bernard.Hewey@sfcc.spokane.edu

Orthotics-Prosthetics Technician Program
A.B.C. Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist
Chair, Allied Health Services Department
Orthotics Instructor

Bernard began practice as an orthotist in 1973 in the United States Army. Following graduation in 1980 from the University of Washington Baccalaureate Program for Prosthetics and Orthotics, he practiced in Minnesota and Wisconsin before returning to Seattle in 1987. In 2004, Bernard assumed the orthotics instructor position at SFCC. Bernard has served in several regional and national O and P organizational committees and is currently the Allied Health Sciences Department Chair. In his spare time, Bernard enjoys water sports, traveling around the northwest region, being trained by his herding dogs, and obsessing over New England sports teams of all types.

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Miller, Meaghan; O&P Instructional Technician

Miller, Meaghan; O&P Instructional Technician Office: 19-104

Phone: (509) 533-3732

Email: Meaghan.Miller@sfcc.spokane.edu

Certified Technician Prosthetics and Orthotics
Lab Assistant

Meaghan Miller is our lab assistant who completed her O and P technician training at SFCC in 2013 while receiving her AAS degree. After graduation, Meaghan worked in Twin Falls, Idaho for almost one year filling several positons, lab tech/manager, orthotic fitter, and O and P assistant. Prior to working at the O and P lab at SFCC, Meg worked as an orthotic technician in a foot and ankle clinic in Spokane. In her spare time, Meg enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and animal companions. She has an amazing collection of creatures keeping her company! Hiking and art craft projects are two favorite activities that Meg relishes with enthusiasm. In addition, she leads two faith-based study groups for young adults on a weekly basis.

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Wright, Clay; Instructor (Program Director)

Wright, Clay; Instructor (Program Director) Office: 19-104K

Phone: (509) 533-3732

Email: Clay.Wright@sfcc.spokane.edu

A.B.C. Certified Prosthetist
Program Director, O and P Technology Programs
Prosthetics Instructor

Clay has worked in private practice and hospital settings in the Seattle area as a prosthetics practitioner since 1980. He is a graduate of the University of Washington Baccalaureate Program for Prosthetics and Orthotics. Clay received his certificate to practice prosthetics in 1982, and in 1993 he began instructing the prosthetics curriculum at SFCC . Clay is a serious, thoughtful person who enjoys helping students achieve their goals and highest level of potential. When he is not teaching, Clay splits his time between family, ancient and seemingly hopeless automobiles, and anything that happens to float!

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Examples of work created by students in the SFCC Orthotic and Prosthetic Programs:

LumboSacral Spinal Orthotic Device: A device that supports the lower back due to weakness from injury or musculoskeletal disease.
· Larger view (animated)

Transradial Prosthetic Arm: A device worn by below-the-elbow amputees to help provide upper extremity function.
· Larger view (animated)

Short Transradial Prosthetic Arm: A device worn by below-the-elbow amputees to help provide upper extremity function. This device is body-powered, using a cable/harness system.
· Larger view (animated)

Plastic & Metal Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthotic Device (1): A device that supports the leg from the foot to above-the-knee, providing stability for the ankle and knee joints.
· Larger view (animated)

Plastic & Metal Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthotic Device (2): A device that supports the leg from the foot to above-the-knee, providing stability for the ankle and knee joints.
· Larger view (animated)

Plastic & Metal Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthotic Device with Droplocks: A device that supports the leg from the foot to above-the-knee, providing stability for the ankle and knee joints. This device also incorporates locks that hold the knee joint in an extended position, yet can be lifted so the knee joint can bend to a sitting position.
· Larger view (animated)

Plastic Ankle-Foot Orthotic Device: A device that supports the leg from the foot to below-the-knee, providing stability for the ankle joint.
· Larger view (animated)

Transfemoral Prosthetic Leg: A device worn by above-the-knee amputees to provide lower extremity function, including the ability to walk.
· Larger view (animated)

Transfemoral Prosthetic Leg with Silesian Belt: A device worn by above-the-knee amputees to provide lower extremity function, including the ability to walk. This device includes a Silesian Belt, which provides suspension, the means by which a device is secured onto the residual limb.
· Larger view (animated)

Transfemoral Prosthetic Leg with Cosmetic Foam Cover: A device worn by above-the-knee amputees to provide lower extremity function, including the ability to walk. This device incorporates a cosmetic foam cover to present a natural leg appearance.
· Larger view (animated)

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