A week in the life of a UK Orthotist
Posted on 16 January 2023
No two days are ever the same. But perhaps a look at a week in the life of an Orthotist can provide some perspective.
An Orthotist’s role varies greatly day to day – at our clinic here in the United Kingdom, we provide solutions to help improve function, reduce pain, or protect from injury. We treat the whole body across a range of conditions, from things like plantar fasciitis to diabetic wounds. We see patients for short-term rehabilitation, which can be a standard post-op, all the way through to lifelong treatment for things like splints or specialist footwear to accommodate muscle weakness/deformity. The week shared here is a great example of the variety of challenges Orthotists face all the time.
I start my day at the diabetic foot clinic at the North General Hospital (NGH).
One of the many endeavours I help with is the work I do with the diabetic multidisciplinary teams (MDT) to provide offloading solutions for patients with ulcers.
Some patients have a complex foot shape from previous Charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy (CN), also known as Charcot foot, or they might have complexities from previous amputations.
These complications make buying off-the-shelf shoes from the shoe store an impossibility, so we take moulds & measurements of their feet and make custom footwear.
Later, I head to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital (RHH) for wards in the afternoon. While there, I usually provide short term solutions to aid with discharge or reduce risk of falling while they are inpatients. Knee braces, temporary footwear, helmets, PRAFO®, and resting hand splints are some of the orthotics used as a solution.
For the next day I help with General Orthotic outpatients. Their needs are most commonly insoles, footwear, ankle foot orthosis, and/or knee bracing.
I then help with the Diabetic Foot Clinic at RHH in the afternoons.
This week I have a lady who uses a carbon fibre brace called Momentum®.
She has lower limb muscle weakness due to spinal compression and severe nerve pain when she tries to walk without the brace. Her current brace was cracked, and she cannot walk without it.
We repaired it in the same day using carbon fibre resin to patch the crack until the new brace was ready. The factory rushed through making her brace within a week - ready for her to do a running race the next weekend!
Today I go to assist at the community paediatric clinic. This is where we go into specialist schools around the Sheffield area working with physios & assistants to help both primary and secondary age.
There is a lot of casting of all different shapes and sizes and fitting of Ankle Foot Orthotics (AFOs). The orthotics being prepared for these clinics help the patients use standing frames or walkers.
In the afternoon, I head over to the Ryegate Children's Centre. While there, I help with more splints, orthopaedic boots, and insoles for patients. These are for a range of conditions including autism, cerebral palsy, DMD, and toe walking.
It’s Friday! At the end of the week, I help with the general clinic in the morning, assisting wherever I might be needed. Afternoons are for telephone assessments & more complex patients who need a bit more time such as Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis (KAFO).
And that’s a typical week in the life of an Orthotist!