8.6 Applying Prosthetics and Orthotics

Prosthetics are an addition or attachment to the body that replicates the function of a lost or dysfunctional limb.[1] An orthotic is a support, brace, or splint used to support, align, prevent, or correct the function of movable parts of the body. Shoe inserts are the most common orthotics and are intended to correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern. Other orthotics include neck braces, back supports, knee braces, and wrist supports.[2] NAs apply prosthetics and orthotics to residents following the therapist’s instructions. Incorrectly applying these devices can cause harm or injury to the resident, so you must understand the correct placement of these supports. If you are unsure, seek guidance from your supervising nurse before placing any prosthetics or orthotics.

One of the main concerns with prosthetic or orthotic devices is skin irritation. Prosthetics typically have a protective sleeve that goes over the limb prior to placing the device. The sleeve gives the prosthetic some security to prevent displacement while also protecting the skin. After the prosthetic is attached, always ask the resident if it is comfortable or if they feel any areas of pressure that may damage the skin. Most orthotics, splints, or braces are padded, but some can be applied over thin clothing. Be sure to review the resident’s nursing care plan regarding how long and at what times any supportive devices should be worn and removed. See Figure 8.22[3] for a device that prevents foot drop.


Photo showing Supportive Brace to Prevent Foot Drop in use
Figure 8.22 Supportive Brace to Prevent Foot Drop

  1. Vinjamuri, R. (Ed.). (2020). Prosthesis. IntechOpen. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.73978
  2. Stoppler, M. C. (Ed.). (2021, March 29). Medical definition of orthotic. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/orthotic/definition.htm
  3. AFO_Ankle_Foot_Orthosis_Orthotic_Brace.JPG” by Pagemaker787 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


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