Orthotics is a medical specialty that focuses on the design and application of orthoses. An orthosis is "an externally applied device used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system". An orthotist is the primary medical clinician responsible for the prescription, manufacture and management of orthoses. An orthosis may be used to:
Orthotics combines knowledge of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, biomechanics and engineering. Patients who benefit from an orthosis may have a condition such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy, or have experienced a spinal cord injury or stroke. Equally, orthoses are sometimes used prophylactically or to optimise performance in sport. At present, for prosthetic and orthotic interventions, the scientific literature does not provide sufficient high quality research to allow strong conclusions on their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.