Here are answers to many of the questions patients ask about orthotics.
Describe a typical orthotic patient.
Well, our patients range in age from infants to seniors. We see a lot more pediatric cases in orthotics than we do in our prosthetic practice. Children account for about 25% of our orthotics. We’re dealing with congenital defects, accidents, short-term growth issues, and so on. For the adults, we do a lot of orthotics for bracing for strains, breaks and tears coming from sports or work-related injuries, other types of trauma, or just the aging process.
What conditions are you seeing among kids?
Starting with our youngest group, we see a growing number of infants that suffer from plagiocephaly or brachiocephaly. These are conditions that mis-shape the child skull. Our specially trained practitioners will evaluate and cast these patients to be fitted with a cranial remolding helmet. We do a lot of scoliosis bracing, as well as for children who have club foot or growth plate issues in their lower limbs. We also find that we’re treating a surprising number of children with cerebral palsy who need orthotics. We work with a number of CP clinics. And, we do a lot of sports medicine bracing requiring orthotics for high school athletes and other teens.
Is it important to work closely with parents in these cases?
Absolutely. We need the parents to understand how the orthotic device works, and why the orthotic is important for their child to follow instructions on its use. It’s really up to them to make sure that their sons or daughters are getting the most out of their orthotic device. Sometimes we have to give the parents emotional support – it can be quite challenging.
What do you mean?
Well, an example would be a child born with a misshapen head from conditions like plageocephaly or bracheocephaly. We have an orthotic device – a cranial remolding helmet – that we custom design for the baby, typically when they are 4 – 6 months old. We make a mold by wrapping the baby’s head in plaster. Then, they have to wear the plastic helmet that we make for them for several months.
The parents are already upset and nervous about their child’s condition. Now they have to deal with the plaster mold experience and the whole concept of their child wearing this orthotic helmet. It can be overwhelming. We have orthotic professionals in our practice who specialize in cranial remodeling. They have gone through extensive training to help parents deal with this. They know how to reassure the parents and give them the confidence they need about the orthotic device. We’ve had a lot of success with these children and their parents