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Prosthetics Degree

If you are interested in learning more about Prosthetics degrees, here is all the information and requirements you need.

What are Prosthetics?

Prosthetics are artificial body parts that are meant to function in place of a lost limb. Although nothing can ever fully replace the natural body parts, a lot of people who have suffered the loss of a body part or were born with missing limbs, would agree that prosthetics are certainly far better than nothing.

The history of prosthetics dates back to as early as the 1500s. They were used and developed extensively during the World War II. Newer and lighter materials were added to the mix to make various types of prosthetics that would result in a greater improvement in functionality. Today, the field of prosthetics is highly advanced, with constant research being carried out to make it even better.

Associate’s Degree in Prosthetics

This 2-year program would teach students the expertise required to make custom-fit prosthesis. This would include the entire process from measuring the patient’s limb, to selecting the materials and fabrication. Some of the courses in this degree are completed in traditional classrooms, while for others the students would have to go to fabrication laboratories.

To get admission into an associate degree in prosthetics, you will be required to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Three years of study in subjects like math and science might also be needed to get admission into a college’s health technology program.

The coursework in an associate degree would focus on making prosthetics for above or below the knee amputations. Some colleges might offer introductory level coursework in pedorthics, which is meant to teach students the method to build braces or show inserts that help in stabilizing the foot and ankle. You might also be required to complete an internship before graduation. Potential courses in this degree might include the following:

  • Prosthetic Materials
  • Human Anatomy
  • Leg and Foot Prosthetics
  • Arm and Hand Prosthetics

Bachelor’s Degree in Prosthetics

This 4-year degree would teach you advance level concepts in prosthetics. It teaches students the basics of applied kinesiology, which is the study of how a patient’s gait is affected by the body’s muscles and joints. The courses in this degree would allow students to understand the intricacies involved in the making and assembling of various kinds of prosthetic limbs. Factors such as shock absorption ability, effectiveness, fitting, balance and structure are all important matters that will be taught to students through different modes of instruction. Casting and socket fabrication will also be covered in the coursework and students will be given ample amount of practical experience in terms of lab assignments.

To get admission into a bachelor’s program, you will need at least a high school diploma or a GED. Having an associate degree would be helpful too. Some schools might even require applicants to have taken certain prerequisite courses such as human anatomy, physics, chemistry and physiology. Psychology might also help in understanding the conditions and emotions of patients going through the process of dealing with a traumatic amputation.

In addition to the fundamental courses in prosthetics, physiology and anatomy, students will also be able to learn a wide range of patient care methods. To successfully complete a bachelor’s degree in prosthetics, most colleges would require students to complete an internship in the relevant field. Career/placement offices in schools might be able to help with finding the right kinds of internships for students.

Typical coursework in a bachelor’s degree in prosthetics might include the following:

  • Exercise physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Upper extremity prosthetics
  • Lower extremity prosthetics
  • Biomechanics

Many universities across the country offer a huge variety of technical courses in this field. Be sure to check the curriculum structure of the program you are applying to.

Master’s Degree in Prosthetics

This is typically a 2-year long advance level degree that focuses on preparing students for entry-level clinical jobs in this field. The advance nature of this degree allows students to work with actual patients, under the supervision of instructors, and design the right fit for their needs. Students will need to perform several consultations, fitting appointments and assessments to arrive at a finished product that is ready to be used by a real-life patient.

Most masters programs would require the submission of a detailed thesis at the end of the program. A 12-month residency is also needed, which enables the students to get hands-on experience in pain management, patient consultation, patient psychology, fitting assessments and physiology.

For admission purposes, some colleges in the US require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics. Others require students to have completed a certain set of courses such as chemistry, physics, math and anatomy. All schools would require the submission of GRE scores, previous GPA and official transcripts. Letters of recommendation and college essays might be a compulsory requirement for some master’s level institutions, though not all colleges require these documents.

Typical courses for a master’s degree in prosthetics include the following:

  • Materials science
  • Gait Analysis
  • Exercise Science
  • Computer-aided design
  • Biomechanics

Careers with a Prosthetics Degree

Depending on the level of your education, you may be able to find entry-level employment in various settings. These include some of the following:

  • Prosthetics Technicians
  • Prosthetics Fitters
  • Pedorthics Technician

In addition to these, there are several related occupations where you can make good use of your prosthetics degree and develop a career path for yourself. Have a look at the following:

  • Orthotists and Prosthetists
  • Rehabilitation Counselors
  • Medical and Health Service Managers
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Salary & Job Growth

              Job Title                                                               Salary                                                    Job Growth

Orthotists and prosthetists

$65,630

23%

Health technologists and technicians

$42,750

16%

This field is undergoing constant development and a steady growth. The field of Orthotists and Prosthetists is experiencing a 23% growth (2014-2014), which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

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