Monday to Friday, 8am – 4:30pm


Frequently Asked Questions About Orthotics and OLAB

What is an orthotic?

An Orthotic (or orthotic device) is the medical term for what most people would refer to as a brace or splint. An Orthosis is an external device applied or attached to a body segment to improve function by controlling motion, providing support through stabilizing gait, reducing pain through transferring load to another area, correcting flexible deformities, and preventing progression of fixed deformities. Orthoses are generally named according to the body regions that they involve, for example:

  • AFO is an Ankle-Foot Orthosis
  • KAFO is a Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis
  • HKAFO is a Hip-Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis
  • TLSO is a Thoraco-Lumbo-Sacral Orthosis

The purpose of using an orthosis is to enhance normal movement and to decrease abnormal posture and tone. Lower extremity orthoses can be used to correct abnormal gait patterns and to increase the efficiency of walking.

Who should I see about getting custom foot orthotics?

The marketplace for foot care products including custom foot orthotics is growing. In addition to the foot orthotics and internal arch support type devices traditionally provided by Certified Orthotists, foot care specialists such as Podiatrists, operating in clinics and retail outlets offer various custom foot orthotics. Our Certified Orthotists work closely with you and your rehabilitation team to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes. This level of patient support and service is particularly important in the treatment of complicated chronic and acute conditions such as diabetes, metatarsalgia or Plantar Fasciitis. You need to seek a second opinion if you believe your orthotist, podiatrist or other health care professional is not meeting your foot orthotic needs or their fees are excessive.

Can kids personalise their AFOs?

We have a large selection of patterns and colours to appeal to kids and adults. Personalizing your orthotics with colour and pattern makes a positive statement and can help children take ownership of their orthotic. Here are a few favourites.

What are the goals of orthotic treatment?

Orthoses play an important role in the physical management of movement disorders such as Cerebral Palsy. Orthoses are designed primarily to affect the body structure by correcting and/or preventing deformity, and/or, to help overcome activity limitations by providing a base of support, facilitating training in skills and improving the efficiency of gait.

Where do I get a “raise” for my shoes?

Leg length discrepancies are common and even seemingly small ones can significantly affect your gait. An Orthopedic Specialist can refer you to a Certified Orthotist to provide you with a raise to help any leg discrepancy. You may have a leg length discrepancy if you notice one shoulder lower than the other in the mirror, or one hip higher than the other. At Olab we can help determine if there is an actual leg length discrepancy or if your posture is compensating and there is an apparent discrepancy.

Appointment Tips

Do I need a prescription for an orthotic device from a Doctor?

Certain types of funded treatment require certain people to refer you, so that your costs are covered. For example if you want your orthotic treatment cost to be covered by the Public Hospital System, then you will need to be referred to OLAB by a clinic or Doctor working for Tauranga or Whakatane Hospital. If you want your orthotic treatment costs to be covered by the ACC, you will need a signed referral from a Specialist. If you are happy to pay the costs yourself, you may approach us directly without a referral.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Bring your referral and wear appropriate attire (such as shorts if you are being fitted for a knee brace for example). You should also bring your footwear that you use the most, joggers or walking shoes are best for stability and accommodating orthotics.

As a new patient, what can I expect at the first appointment?

Our Receptionist will welcome you to OLAB and present you with a form to complete, including a Patient Information Form providing us with your contact and billing information and your agreement to treatment. The Orthotist will then meet with you to review the diagnoses and prescription or referral, conduct an examination, explain how the orthotic device prescribed will aid in the treatment of the condition, present you with treatment options for your consideration, describe the casting materials and process involved and answer any other questions you may have before proceeding to take the cast. The first appointment may be up to one hour in duration depending on things like – if casting, tracings or other measurements are required. The Receptionist will make arrangements for the following appointment for the fitting with you before you leave.

Is my privacy protected?

OLAB as with other Healthcare providers, is bound by New Zealand’s Health Department regulations to maintain your privacy and only share health information with other relevant healthcare providers and agencies.

Where is the OLAB clinic?

OLAB is located on campus at Tauranga Hospital, Cameron Rd in Tauranga.  Click here to see us on a map.