When your limb, spine, or any other body part surrounding these integral areas suffers from a medical condition, you require the support of orthotic or prosthetic devices. These devices are designed to ease the strain, pain, and discomfort that you may otherwise experience without their support, especially when moving.
Learning about the various types of prosthetic and orthotic devices is important in equipping you with the right information for treatment. Moreover, you want to consult an experienced physical therapist for treatment after an amputation procedures, strain, dislocation, and pain in limbs. You will then understand various expectations regarding your overall well-being.
At Suarez Physical Therapy, we focus on providing the best physical therapy services and related medical guidance and support for patients seeking help in Las Vegas, NV. We believe in creating a safe and welcoming environment where you can receive professional and quality services from an experienced team. We have helped numerous patients to find the best devices to support their limbs and spines by using prosthetics or orthotic devices. Our goal is to help you obtain the best quality of life by easing the pain and discomfort caused by bodily injuries.
Orthotic Devices and Their Classifications
External bone structure support is crucial for patients who suffer from severe dislocations and sprains, including the cervical plates on the spine. This type of orthopedic support is therefore suitable for patients with full limbs, but who suffer from pain or tension. Once a doctor recommends an orthosis to support a specific body part, you should wear it as prescribed. Adjusting the orthosis accordingly for maximum benefits is also essential.
An orthotic device can be custom-made to fit your needs, especially if your injury is severe or requires additional support. Alternatively, you can settle for a pre-made orthosis that accommodates your needs. Nonetheless, each design should be sufficient for a successful treatment plan. Your doctor should also schedule several follow-up sessions to determine that recovery progress is ongoing.
Types of Orthotics
There are many types of orthosis available, depending on the type of injury you face, and the effectiveness of the orthotic device. Finding more information on the varieties can be useful for you or a loved one. For example, you can start planning by creating a budget to purchase the orthosis. Common types include:
Upper Limb/Arm Orthotics
If you hurt your forearm, elbow, or shoulder area, arm orthotic devices are ideal for treatment support. This is because they can hold the entire limb in the position it is supposed to be. Most conditions are triggered by high-impact force from severe injuries and trauma on the affected area. For example, participating in sports like football often leads to injuries for the affected persons, even when they have worn protective gear.
Using the orthotics, you can also improve an ongoing condition that arose without any causative incident. Your doctor plays the important role of identifying the problem, diagnosing it, and recommending an orthosis device for you. Some patients need to hold the arm in one position for complete recovery to happen. Others may need to exercise and move the arm to increase the chances of a full recovery. Based on these two considerations, arm orthoses are further classified as:
This first type includes orthotics that allow you to move your arm around, especially around the joint areas. The main condition leading to a requirement for functional or dynamic orthotics is having weak muscles occurring from soft tissue injuries
For example, overworking your muscles during intensive weight training can quickly lead to weak muscles and sensitive tissue. Consequently, you may suffer from spasms that require stabilization using an orthosis. Once your muscles are strong enough for you to move the limb without assistance, you can stop wearing the device.
Alternatively, you may have to wear a static orthosis that restricts your arm movements to promote recovery. Your doctor may require you to refrain from moving if your soft tissues are severely injured. In return, this leads to interference with the tendons and nerves on the affected area. Normally, most injuries will recover over time if you continue wearing the orthotic device and adhere to other directives issued by your doctor.
Hand and Wrist Orthosis
Similarly, your hand and wrist area are often exposed to high-risk injuries like sprains and finger fractures. The effects caused by the impact can limit your ability to work and handle objects for a while, leading to a restrictive lifestyle. You can combat the painful effects by wearing a hand or wrist orthotic device as directed by your doctor.
He/she will run several physical and imaging tests to determine the origin of your fracture or sprain. Your doctor will also conduct a physical examination to determine whether the orthosis is effective in promoting a full recovery.
After undergoing hip surgery, you need to minimize the movement around the area operated. Based on the procedure, moving it frequently may delay your recovery significantly. However, hip movements are part of daily body functions because you use the hip to sit and stand, walk and balance your posture. All these activities require you to either flex or release the hip muscles for movement to occur. While the muscle contraction and relaxation are important, it becomes detrimental when a patient needs to heal. Thus, your doctor can prescribe a postoperative orthotic device to support your hip.
With the support you receive from the device, you can avoid causing friction, tension, or unwanted dislocation on the hip joint. Thus, you need to wear your orthosis as prescribed and reduce your movement during the healing period for a successful outcome.
If you have experienced minor injuries from a low-impact accident, you may require a spine orthosis for various purposes. As with other injuries, your doctor will first assess the nature of your condition. Afterward, he/she will prescribe a specific device to correct the spinal deformity in a specific area on your back.
The first use of this orthotic is to reduce your back movement to give the spine enough time to heal and regain its natural position. You may have hurt your back from strenuous activities, sudden impact, or recurrent poor posture. Despite this, you can make a full recovery and return to your daily activities with limited movement.
Secondly, your treatment can target only a specific region of your spine. This is the case particularly when a cervical plate is disjointed from the rest of the backbone. With the help of a spine orthotic, the targeted area remains in one position for the required duration. In the meantime, your body progressively makes improvements to achieve a full recovery. Similar treatment will also apply when your doctor needs to realign the spine after noticing a deformity. However, some features may be congenital, meaning that correcting them may not be an effective treatment method.
Many people complain about uneven foot pressure that prevents them from standing for long durations when required. This may arise from improper weight/force distribution towards your feet if your sole structures are more sensitive. A foot orthosis, therefore, becomes a suitable treatment option if no other underlying conditions are identified.
The orthosis resembles a shoe sole and should be placed inside your shoe before wearing it and walking in it. Your orthosis should offer intense comfort as the body pressure distributes evenly for a more stable posture, even when standing for long durations.
Knee Orthotic Devices
Knee injuries are common for most people, as they may arise from various triggers. For some, playing sports causes disjointed kneecaps. For others, intense exercise training may wear out the synovial fluid around the knee. Consequently, friction increases as you fold and straighten your knee when engaging in any body movements. To strengthen your knee and the surrounding muscles, we recommend wearing an orthosis that reduces the impact applied on the knee when moving.
Further, since your knees are integral joints that support a significant amount of body weight, they are prone to a lot of pressure. Therefore, an orthosis can help to distribute the force evenly and reduce the possibility of damaged knees in the long term.
Prosthetics and their Classifications
The second category of support devices is prosthetics, often used after a patient undergoes a limb amputation. Various medical conditions and complications may lead to amputation as a final resort. Usually, you will have a limb amputated because of traumatic injuries that are difficult to operate on.
Additionally, your doctor may order for amputation after you suffer from vascular disease, especially in the peripheral area of the limb. The disease makes it difficult for blood to circulate evenly from the affected areas to other surrounding body parts. Consequently, the tissue around your limb will slowly die off and decompose if amputation is not conducted promptly.
Some patients also suffer from congenital conditions that cause limb complications later on. Since the disorders are linked to the birth procedure or genetics, you may have limited options to rectify them. As a result, your most viable option is undergoing an amputation procedure.
Since amputation involves the removal of your limb, you may need a replacement to help you maintain your appearance and mobility. Prosthetics are the most suitable devices for any patient looking to maintain his/her routine and independence after the operation. They are made of sturdy plastic and metallic material to provide an upright position for the limb area to be replaced. This way, you can attain maximum support as you undertake your routine activities, including walking and holding items.
Prosthetic devices are further classified into two main subdivisions: upper limbs and lower extremity types. Each design serves different functions, based on where it is fixed and the ease of movement that it provides.
Lower Extremity Prosthetics
This first category includes prosthetic devices fitted on the lower body level, particularly below your hips. Based on their location of use, they support your legs and can help you maintain your upward posture. Although lower extremity prosthetics are generally used for leg support, they are further subdivided into two categories based on the specific area that was amputated:
The first type of prosthetic that could serve you is the trans-femoral device. It is designed to support your lower limb if your amputation involves the femur bone. This structure is especially important because the femur is one of the strongest and most pivotal bones in your body.
It supports your hip down to your mid-thigh and is connected to the hip bone on the upper side. Thus, it is an integral part to achieve proper posture and general body support. The trans-femoral prosthetic should therefore be strong enough to uphold your body weight and allow you to hold your posture correctly.
The second type is the transtibial prosthetic that supports your leg from the knee down. As the name suggests, the device provides a replacement for patients who had an amputation affecting their tibia bone. This bone is located below the knee and is supported by another called the Fibula. Together, they support your calves and shins to extend onto the ankle and foot structures. Subsequently, the prosthetic should be strong enough to uphold your body weight from the upper body, as the force will extend down to the transtibial device.
Lower limb amputation may also occur from the knee, leading to the need for knee prosthetics to facilitate movement. When choosing a prosthesis, your doctor may recommend a single axis design that is hinged to allow bending like a normal knee. Thus, you can sit or stand using the prosthesis, provided it contains enough hydraulic fluid to prevent friction during these movements.
Alternatively, you may have a polycentric knee prosthesis that can rotate at various angles. This improves your mobility and independence to sit and stand without support. While the option seems more advanced, your doctor will consider several factors. They include your weight, lifestyle, and frequency of engaging in high-impact activities before recommending it.
Upper Limb Prosthetics
Similarly, some patients may have their upper limbs(arms) amputated for the same reasons as discussed above. This prompts them to seek suitable upper limb prosthetics that provide them with the support and aesthetic they intend to achieve.
An upper limb prosthetic can be designed to fit from your shoulder or your elbow. Your suitable design will depend on where the amputation occurred. The doctor should also consider whether you can function easily with the new prosthetic in a fixed position.
Typically, most patients prefer a prosthesis that serves an aesthetic function to achieve your intended look. However, most prosthetics that resemble a real hand may have limited functional uses because the design is difficult to control.
A transhumeral prosthesis is widely used as a replacement for an amputated arm, particularly on the humerus bone above your elbow. Thanks to the support it provides, you can achieve a full-body appearance and conduct few activities independent of a third party's assistance.
Amputation may also occur on the lower part of your arm, after the elbow joint. This area is held by two bones, the radius, and ulna. Subsequently, a trans-radial prosthetic will attach under your elbow for added functionality. Usually, the prosthesis operates using cable functions that detect muscle movement from your upper arm. In return, the movements trigger your prosthetic hand to move as required, although these movements remain manual.
A Myoelectric Arm
With the onset of technological improvements in the medical field, you can now benefit from the electric design incorporated in this prosthesis design. It applies sensory electrodes to detect any muscle contractions from your upper arm. The technology aims at easing your arm movement through these electrodes, as any detected muscle contractions will have the hand in a closed or open position. This way, gripping and releasing items becomes easier. Generally, Myoelectric arms are suitable devices to serve as transhumeral and trans-radial prosthetics.
Contact a Physical Therapist Near Me
When you notice a recurrent pain or discomfort in a specific area of the body or have undergone an amputation procedure, you want to learn of possible ways to help you manage your condition. Finding an orthotic or prosthetic device that provides sufficient support, stability and comfort will give you access to a better quality of life and the ability to move and work easily. There are various processes and requirements to fulfill before finding the ideal device, so we recommend partnering with trusted physical therapy professionals who are knowledgeable in the field.
At Suarez Physical Therapy, we help patients who need further guidance in finding, getting fit for, and receiving physical therapy for the management of an orthotic or prosthetic device for work and play in our Las Vegas, NV community . We have helped many patients in the past attain the best level of comfort and independence by recommending orthotics or prosthetic limbs. Additionally, we are ready to provide further assistance with aftercare tips and any other inquiries you may have as a first-time user of prosthetic or orthotic devices. Contact us at 702-368-6778 for more information on finding a suitable device for you.