The Orthopedic Technologist role – an invaluable asset to
Hamilton Health Sciences
Joan Knighton, Registered Orthopedic Technologist, applies a cast in the General Fracture Clinic.
Fracturing a bone and needing a cast is never a great experience, but you have to admit
that watching your colourful cast being put on is pretty neat. The friendly person who
applied your cast was most likely a Registered Orthopedic Technologist.
Orthopedic technologists, or ortho techs, are a small group of medically trained staff who
work under the direction of orthopedic surgeons and are often referred to as an extension
of the surgeons’ hands. They assist with preventing and correcting disorders of the
locomotor structures and facilitate the treatment of fractures using the best practices
Besides applying and removing casts, ortho techs set up traction, apply a variety of
orthopedic devices such as hinged braces, foamwalkers and splints, dress wounds, and
remove staples and sutures. They also remove percutaneous pins that sit outside the skin
and are used to hold fractured bones together.
At Hamilton Health Sciences, you will find ortho techs in the Fracture Clinics at MUMC,
the General, Chedoke and the Juravinski site, however they are also a resource to other
clinical areas and are often called upon for assistance. It is not uncommon in some other
health care centres to find ortho techs in emergency departments, ORs, plastics clinics,
outpatient clinics and inpatient wards, as they are invaluable to patient care in many
“A large part of our work is teaching,” said Joan Knighton, Registered Orthopedic
Technologist. “First, we must teach the patients how to take care of themselves and their
casts, and inform them of the danger signs to watch for. Second, we also teach medical
students and residents on rotation through our clinics. There is always someone who
wants to learn how to put on a cast!”
Joan and her fellow ortho techs are certified through the Canadian Society of Orthopaedic
Technologists. They have studied anatomy, physiology and orthopedic diseases, they
have learned the related skills and techniques, and they have completed a stringent exam.
To find out more about the orthopedic technologist role, visit www.pappin.com/csot.