What does an Orthopedic Technician do?

Licia Morrow

An orthopedic technician provides assistance to doctors, surgeons, and other health care workers by setting stabilization devices and utilizing other technology that relates to the care of the bones. Some orthopedic technicians work in hospitals or other health care facilities and report to senior medical staff. In some cases, this type of technician is responsible for a mobile unit with supplies and instruments designed to assist with the preparation and setting of bones, while in other cases he might be assigned to a designated area. In both cases, the orthopedic technician will be required to stock and track supplies, and keep instrumentation in working order. He will also need to research and report data in the form of computerized or written reports.

An orthopedic technician may be responsible for educating patients about the proper care for orthopedic devices.
An orthopedic technician may be responsible for educating patients about the proper care for orthopedic devices.

The main focus of this job is the setting and removal of casts, which are designed to stabilize bones during healing. The orthopedic technician gathers the appropriate supplies, such as reinforcement pieces, as well as exterior applications needed to produce a strong molded cast. He might also be in charge of other types of bone-related medical materials, such as splints, and walking devices. When the time comes for a cast to be removed, the orthopedic technician is usually responsible for utilizing a saw to remove the molded pieces of the cast. During this time, he works with the doctor in removing, examining, and reporting the condition of the bone and related orthopedic concerns.

An orthopedic technician might instruct patients on the proper way to use a walking cane.
An orthopedic technician might instruct patients on the proper way to use a walking cane.

Some orthopedic technicians, especially those working at larger hospitals, will be in charge of movable carts that house cast and splint materials as well as other necessary applications for orthopedic care. In other cases, a technician might be stationed in one location, with patients arriving for service and departing upon completion of care. Both mobile and stationary orthopedic technicians will be required to respond to requests, as doctors often discover an orthopedic need midway into a medical process.

Many orthopedic technicians are tasked with stocking and tracking supplies.
Many orthopedic technicians are tasked with stocking and tracking supplies.

An orthopedic technician will also be responsible for patient education, including communicating to a wide variety of individuals on the proper care and maintenance of orthopedic devices. He will explain to patients the appropriate actions for taking care of a cast, avoiding re-injury, and the process for upcoming removal. Once the cast is removed, the technician may also instruct a patient on appropriate exercises needed to keep the area strong during the remainder of the healing process.

During a typical day, an orthopedic technician will check necessary supplies and equipment, and record data for necessary medical paperwork. He will see new patients and monitor the progress of past patients. He will also be required to complete orthopedic reporting during the work day, and he will seek assistance when a more senior medical staff member is required for care. The technician may work as the main orthopedic appliance expert on staff or with a group of other technicians with similar job descriptions.

An orthopedic technician may set and remove casts.
An orthopedic technician may set and remove casts.

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