Prosthetic education: Are occupational therapy students’ needs being met?


Based on a previous survey on prosthetics and orthotics training in occupational therapy (OT) [1], we developed a 14-question online questionnaire that was made available to the directors of 167 occupational therapy programs (Masters and Ph.D.) in the US and Canada. Fifty- two surveys were completed for a response rate of 31%. Overall, the results indicated that since the previous survey, little has changed in the amount of time and emphasis OT faculty assign to providing training in prosthetics and orthotics, or in the training experiences, OT students receive. Notably, only a few hours of the total OT curriculum is devoted to training in prosthetics. For the majority of programs (62%) the content was embedded within related classes. Only 32% of programs had a required lecture in prosthetics/orthotics. Despite the lack of time given in the curriculum, 85% of program directors thought that training in prosthetics/orthotics was important or very important. The use of prosthetic simulators was reported as the single most desirable training tool. However, lack of time and overcrowding in the curriculum were cited as the greatest barriers to providing more training to students. We elaborate on these findings, discuss their implications for OT students and practitioners, and provide specific recommendations about how to overcome the barriers and enhance upper limb amputee exposure and knowledge through the prosthetic training experience.

Share and Cite:

Mitchell, M. , Gorelick, M. , Anderson, D. and Atkins, D. (2014) Prosthetic education: Are occupational therapy students’ needs being met?. Open Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 2, 5-11. doi: 10.4236/ojtr.2014.21002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Atkins, D.J. (1992) Training in prosthetics and orthotics: The occupational therapy experience. Prosthetic and Orthotic Research for the Twenty-First Century: Report of a Research Planning Conference, Bethesda, 23-25 July 1992, 55-60.
[2] Ziegler-Graham, K., MacKensie, E.J., Ephraim, P.L., Travison, T.G. and Brookmeyer, R. (2008) Estimating the prevalence of limb loss in the United States: 2005-2050. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 89, 422-429.
[3] Dillingham, T.R., Pezzin, L.E. and MacKenzie, E.J. (2002) Limb amputation and limb deficiency: Epidemiology and recent trends in the United States. Southern Medical Journal, 95, 875-883.
[4] Bittermann, P. R. (1968) An upper-extremity prosthesis for the non-amputee. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 23, 210.
[5] Weeks, D.L., Wallace, S.A. and Anderson, D.I. (2003) Training with an upper-limb prosthetic simulator to enhance transfer of skill across limbs. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 84, 437-443.
[6] Lavrakas, P.J. (2008) Encyclopedia of survey research methods. Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks.
[7] Sheehan, K.B. and Hoy, M.G. (1997) Email surveys: Response patterns, process and potential. Proceedings of the 1997 Conference of the American Academy of Advertisers.
[8] Sheehan, K.B. and McMillan, S.J. (1999) Response variation in email surveys: An exploration. Journal of Advertising Research, 39, 45-54.
[9] Atkins, D.J., Heard, D.C.Y. and Donovan, W.H. (1996) Epidemiologic overview of individuals with upper-limb loss and their reported research priorities. Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics, 8, 2-11.
[10] Carroll, K. and Edelstein, J. (2006) Prosthetics and patient management: A comprehensive clinical approach. Slack Incorporated, Thorofare.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.