Globally, only one in 10 people have access to the assistive technology they need, including orthotics and prosthetics. The demand for orthotic and prosthetic services is expected to double by 2050.
To meet this demand, there will need to be significant growth of an appropriately qualified workforce globally.
Michael Dillon, Professor in Prosthetics and Orthotics, has published an editorial in Prosthetics Orthotics International discussing this issue and other challenges facing the orthotic and prosthetic profession.
Professor Dillon says that improved practitioner regulation is an unlikely key to workforce growth.
“When practitioners work in a well-regulated environment, governments and funding bodies can more easily understand the contribution that a profession makes to healthcare. This helps to establish defined roles and career pathways that give practitioners more stable employment, promotion opportunities, and higher salaries, thus helping to retain experienced practitioners,” he says.
“Unfortunately, our research has shown that there is little-to-no regulation of the orthotic and prosthetic workforce in most countries.”
In Australia, there has been significant change over the last ten years with self-regulation undertaken by the Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association.
“Countries like Australia have worked to install all nine core regulatory standards for the orthotic and prosthetic profession, and this has had a significant impact on clinical practice and workforce growth,” explains Professor Dillon.
“If other countries are to make this same transformative journey, they will need support, guidance, and expertise. As such, it is important that we establish a profession-specific global body dedicated to supporting national associations to improve regulation of orthotist/prosthetists in their country,” Professor Dillon explains.
“Addressing these challenges in the years ahead will be important to promote workforce growth and help ensure more people have access to safe and effective orthotic and prosthetic care.”