Medical orthotists & prosthetists (MOPs) are concerned with the design, manufacturing and fitting of splints, braces, surgical appliances (orthotics) and artificial limbs (prosthetics). MOPs are members of the rehabilitation team who help those who require orthopaedic support. Once qualified, medical orthotists & prosthetists register with the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Orthotics can be defined as orthopaedic appliances (braces or splints) that provide support, correction or protection of a body part or limb.

Orthotics are typically used in the following instances: (Note: Categories often overlap)

  • Support of an injured joint or body part – to allow for healing to occur safely
  • Improved functioning as a result of misalignment or weakness – often used over the long term
  • Protection against injury – often used in sport
  • Correction or prevention of deformity – often as a result of neuromuscular or degenerative conditions
  • Protection against injury – often used in sport

Foot orthotics – used for a wide range of foot or lower extremity problems. Often used prophylactically by runners or other sports people

An ankle-foot orthosis (drop-foot brace) used to improve functioning and walking after a neurological injury or stroke affecting the foot/ankle

A range-of-movement leg brace for post-injury or post-operative knee immobilisation

A neck brace or collar for post-injury or post-surgical immobilisation of the neck

An arm sling for post-injury or post-surgical support of the arm, shoulder and/or elbow

An unloading knee brace to unload the knee joint as a result of a degenerative disease (such as osteoarthritis)

A semi-rigid wrist brace used for support after injury or prophylactic protection against injury

Orthotics can be custom made by an orthotist or pre-made by orthotic brace manufacturers and fitted to the patient by an orthotist. Pre-made orthotics are commonly referred to as 'off the shelf' (OTS) orthotics.

Orthotists also often dispense mobility aids such as crutches, walkers and wheelchairs. These are, however, not provided exclusively through orthotists, as there are other medical professionals and retail outlets that also sell mobility aids.

General mobility devices also dispensed by orthotists