Successful O&P treatment requires multimodal expertise that includes an understanding of anatomy, pathology, biomechanics, fabrication techniques, and the ability to clearly communicate with patients. Communication impacts the totality of O&P treatment, from information gathering during the patient interview to patient education about the treatment plan to help ensure compliance and positive outcomes. The ability to clearly communicate with patients can be complicated when the patient presents with various speech-language pathologies. Implicit biases can arise when working with this population of patients, which can negatively affect the quality of care provided.
A common biased assumption correlates a communication disorder or language barrier with a cognitive disability or delay. This is not an inherent truth. The conversation is commonly framed as “the patient’s inability to communicate” as opposed to “the clinician’s inability to understand.” It is not the patient’s fault, and clinicians must work to understand the context of a language or communication barrier and overcome biases to provide clear communication of pertinent medical information to every patient.