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Understanding Orthotic Materials is Critical for Proper Prescriptions and Clinical Outcomes

Understanding Orthotic Materials is Critical for Proper Prescriptions and Clinical Outcomes

Achieving optimum outcomes with orthotic therapy is dependent on a number of factors. These include proper prescription writing, correct casting technique, and high quality cast work in production methods by the orthotic lab. If you are ProLab client then you know that our cast work is the best in the industry and that we strive constantly to provide you with the education and information you need to write the best orthotic prescriptions.

Understanding orthotic material differences is often an overlooked but critical part of writing the correct orthotic prescription. This came up in a conversation I had with a ProLab client this morning when doing a consult regarding a patient with a Cavus foot structure.

This particular client primarily prescribed our Direct Milled Polypropylene. She appreciates that the Direct Milled Polypropylene is less expensive and provides the exact same orthotic shape and clinical outcome of the vacuum formed polypropylene. She wished to use the Direct Milled Polypropylene for her orthotic material for this prescription. I had to inform her, however, that in this instance the Direct Milled would not be the best choice of material.

Because direct milled orthoses (from ProLab or any other orthotic lab) are milled from a block of polypropylene, the arch height is limited by the thickness of the polypropylene block. So, in a situation where you want an orthosis that conforms very closely to the arch of a cavus foot, it is often best to use a vacuum formed polypropylene, rather than direct milled. Because of the vacuum formed polypropylene is made from a heated sheet of polypropylene being vacuum formed to a positive mold of the foot, there is no such limitation on arch height.

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