Pre-Orthotics and Prosthetics

Metropolitan State University of Denver


last updated January 2024


“Orthotics and prosthetics is a specialized health care profession, which combines a unique blend of clinical and technical skills. Orthotists and prosthetists evaluate patients and custom design, fabricate and fit orthoses and prostheses. They work with other members of the rehabilitation team, design with computers, help change a patient’s life…these are typical things orthotic and prosthetic practitioners do every day. Orthotics and Prosthetics is the evaluation, fabrication and custom fitting of artificial limbs and orthopedic braces. Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) is an allied health profession with a variety of exciting employment opportunities available including O&P practitioners, assistants, fitters, and technicians.” Source: NCOPE

“Defining Orthotics and Prosthetics
Orthotics and Prosthetics is an allied health profession where the Orthotics and Prosthetics practitioners evaluates, fabricates and custom fits artificial limbs or custom orthopedic braces. Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) is a profession with a variety of exciting employment opportunities available including O&P Practitioners, assistants, fitters and technicians.

An orthotics is specifically trained and educated to provide or manage the provision of custom-designed and fabricated orthopedic braces, also called courthouses, to patents with disabling conditions. A prosthetist is trained and educated to provide custom-designed and fabricated artificial limbs, also called prostheses, to patients with complete or partial absence of a limb.

The Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistant supports the certified practitioner by assisting in orthotic and prosthetic patient care. Under the guidance and supervision of the practitioner, registered assistants may perform orthotic and prosthetic procedures and related tasks in the management of patients. The registered assistant also fabricates, repairs and maintains devices to provide maximum fit, function and cosmesis.

The Technology
Improved materials and technologies are enabling many individuals with disabilities to return to activities they previously enjoyed. Custom fabricated and custom fitted prostheses and orthoses require high strength and low weight. Accordingly, materials originally developed for aerospace applications are often utilized in the fabrication of prostheses and orthoses. Advancement in technology continue to improve patient care outcomes. Technological breakthroughs such as electronic knees and computer imaging are changing the way orthoses and prostheses enable patents to fulfill their potential.

Who Is A Good Candidate
First and foremost, an ideal candidate for the orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) profession would have a passion for making a difference every day. No other attribute will be as important as the strong desire to improve the lives of your patients. Along with that passion, the ideal candidate would possess very strong interpersonal skills, listening skills and in particular, an aptitude for math and science. O&P is a “hands on” profession, where your knowledge, commitment and dedication will translate into better lives for each patient. If this description fells like a personal fit, you owe it to yourself to research further the exciting career opportunities in orthotics and prosthetics.

The Need
There is a growing need for orthotic and prosthetic professionals. Since 1973 the US Department of Education has identified O&P training as a national priority with a practitioner deficit. While only eight institutions nationwide currently offer O&P education, the demand for provider services is expected to increase by 25 percent for orthotic care and 47 percent for prosthetic care by 2020, only 61 percent or less of the population using orthoses will be served. Similarly, only 66 percent or less of prosthetic consumers’ needs will be meet by 2020-a population expected to increase by 47 percent by that year. These statistics are taken from a study conducted by Caroline Nielsen, PhD entitled Issues Affecting the Future Demand for Orthotics and Prosthetics (May 2002).” Source: Oklahoma State University. Here is a link on the various careers in Orthotics and Prosthetics:

Links on O & P schools can be found at:

The prerequisites to gain entry into a practitioner level program provided by the above-listed schools vary. Students should check the specific requirements for the specific school of interest. Below are some general guidelines.

General Chemistry with lab (CHE 1800 & 1801, CHE 1810 & 1811) 2 semesters
General Biology (BIO 1080,1090) This is a prerequisite for Human Anatomy & Physiology 1 semester
Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II (BIO 2310 and 2320) 2 semesters
Physics 1 and 2 with labs; Some schools require the algebra based physics (PHY 2010&2030, 2020&2040) and some require the calculus based physics (PHY 2311&2321, 2331&2341) 2 semesters
Psychology (PSY 1001); Plus many schools require Abnormal Psychology (PSY 3620) and Human Development (PSY 2210) 1-3 semesters
Mathematics: College Algebra and College Trigonometry (MTH 1110 & 1120; Some programs require Statistics (MTH 1210) and/or Calculus (MTH 1410) 2-4 semesters

Note: Many orthotics and prosthetics programs require cadaver-based anatomy. MSU Denver offers Advanced Human Cadaver Anatomy each fall/spring. This course is a five credit course and has prerequisites of BIO 1080/90, BIO 2310 and upper-division standing.

For more information about this field, or to check out specific schools, go to the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education

For further information you are advised to consult with a pre-medical advisor: Biology Pre-Med Advisor: Dr. Hays or Dr. Meloche, SI 2042, (303) 615-0777; [email protected]

Colorado Pre-Health Society