Medical appliance technicians build, fit, and repair artificial limbs, braces, and supports.
Now made of high-tech materials such as graphite and carbon, prosthetics use sophisticated design and computer chips so that their wearers are more mobile (and faster) than ever. Medical appliance technicians fit prosthetics so the sockets and joints are more comfortable and easy to use.
Medical appliance technicians assist and are supervised by the following specialists:
- Orthotists make orthotic devices or braces. These devices help to relieve patients’ pain or correct deformities.
- Prosthetists make artificial limbs for patients who need them due to birth defects, injuries, or accidents.
- Podiatrists treat foot problems.
Technicians read prescriptions and detailed information about what patients need.
For prosthetic devices appliance technicians build a plaster cast of the patient's limb. Technicians lay out parts and use precision measuring instruments. They cut, carve, or grind the material for the prosthetic, using hand or power tools. Technicians may use plastic, metal, and other materials. They drill holes for rivets, and glue, rivet, or weld the parts together. They mix pigments to match patients' skin color and apply the mixture to the device. Finally, they polish and shape the device as needed. Technicians may cover or pad devices with rubber, leather, felt, or plastics.
For orthotic devices, technicians use a similar process. They make a wax or plastic impression. For example, for an arch support, they make an impression of the patient’s foot. They bend, form, or shape the material according to measurements.
Technicians test devices, both off and on the patient, for proper alignment and movement. They fit devices onto patients and make adjustments. Some technicians teach patients how to use these devices. Most technicians repair and maintain the devices they make.