A study assessed the use of digital technology in O&P and whether it can help overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and concluded that the pandemic highlights the usefulness of digital technology, but it must be implemented thoughtfully and designed to address issues that are barriers to current adoption. O&P should move toward creating the required infrastructure to support this digital transformation, even if the world returns to pre-COVID-19 activities, according to the authors.
The web-based survey of prosthetist/orthotists and people with lower-limb amputations was conducted in June and July. Input was sought from industry and academic experts for the development of the survey. Descriptive analyses were performed for both qualitative (open-ended questions) and quantitative data.
In total, 113 individuals responded to the survey; 83 surveys were included in the analysis (15 percent patients, 85 percent prosthetist/orthotists). Thirty surveys were excluded because less than ten percent of the questions were answered.
Forty-four percent of the prosthetist/orthotists used digital technologies. 3D scanning and imaging were the leading digital technologies being used, primarily for footwear, AFOs, and transtibial and transfemoral sockets. The use of virtual care was reported by the prosthetists/orthotists to be beneficial; however, the technology could not overcome inherent barriers such as the lack of details normally obtained during a physical assessment. Virtual care could be useful for education, monitoring, or triaging purposes or in rural settings.
The study, Leveraging digital technology to overcome barriers in the prosthetic and orthotic industry: an evaluation of its applicability and use during the COVID-19 pandemic, was published in JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies.