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The Value of O&P 

Staff Writer

Orthotics and prosthetics, often abbreviated as O&P, refer to limb braces and artificial body parts. The general public is usually quite oblivious to the O&P industry until a friend or relative is diagnosed with an orthopedic condition or undergoes amputation. 


O&P is a part of the medical supply industry, which also includes Durable Medical Equipment (DME).  Many medical professionals and even O&P consumers may confuse O&P with DME, but there are clear distinctions:


·          DME usually includes non-custom items, such as wheelchairs, canes, bed pans, special toilet seats and walkers


·          O&P devices are usually custom fabricated and/or custom fitted


·          O&P is provided by a certified orthotists or prosthetist


Unfortunately, some insurance companies group O&P and DME together.  This can result in insufficient benefit capitations and a general misunderstanding of the unique role O&P plays in the lives of its users.  Not only do O&P devices allow users to regain independence, our industry benefits the entire community by assisting physically challenged people in reaching their full potential in our work forces and in their contributions to our society. 


O&P accounts for only 0.5 percent of Medicare spending.  The premium to ensure sufficient coverage for prosthetic care is only 16 cents per insured per month.  How does O&P reduce overall healthcare costs?


·          Reduced rehabilitation stays

·          Reduced falls

·          Increased activity in users often translates into healthier lifestyles


The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) strives to educate lawmakers and the general public, so that O&P devices can be made available to the people that require them. 


For more information on AOPA and the O&P industry, visit


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