Northern Rivers Orthotics Service

What is the Northern Rivers Orthotics Service project?

Proudly funded by the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Fondation, this project provides localised orthotic care to children with disability who require orthoses in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. Northcott, Ability Made and Northcott Innovation are piloting the service for 12 months. 

The project brings together highly skilled Orthotists and local Northern Rivers allied health professionals. Together they will use the latest in telehealth and digital technologies to assess and fit children with disability for specialised orthotic devices such as Ankle Foot Orthoses, significantly reducing Northern Rivers families’ expenses and time while still enabling high quality orthotic care.

Who is eligible to receive this service?

Children aged 18 and under who:

  • Have disability and who already wear customised lower limb orthoses such as AFOs
  • Live in Northern NSW and can travel to Northcott’s Ballina office

What devices can be prescribed?

A number of orthotic devices can be prescribed and produced through this pilot. Examples include the following but the Orthotist will discuss your child’s needs and options with you during assessment:

  • Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs) 
  • Supra Malleolar Orthoses (SMOs) 
  • UCBLs 
  • Bed resting AFOs

How can you request this service?

If you want to request this service for your child, please call or email Karen Paskins at the Northcott Ballina office:

P: 0266 206 600

Do you have to pay for this service?

This service can be funded through your child’s NDIS plan or our initial children will be funded by the project. Contact Karen via details above to find out how. 

Where do you have to go to access this service?

You will need to express your interest for your child to receive this service (through Karen via the contact details above) and if you have an appointment, you will need to travel to:

Northcott Ballina
64 Crane St
Ballina NSW 2478

Will the service be distressing for your child or hurt your child?

This project utilises the latest in digital technologies and the scanning process should be hands free so should not be distressing for your child. 

How many appointments will be required?

Four face-to-face appointments in Ballina will be required. One for the orthotics assessment, one for scanning, one to fit the orthoses (called a fitment) and one for review.  

How long will the appointments take?

The Orthotist seeing your child will speak to you on the phone before your first appointment. The orthotics assessment, scanning and fitment appointments should take between one and two hours. The review appointment should take less than one hour. 

How long will it take to make the device?

The process from initial assessment to final review should take around 10 weeks.

How is the device made?

At your child’s assessment appointment, a 3D scan of your child’s foot, ankle and lower limb will be taken. The Orthotist then uses software, and the scan, to design customised orthosis that meets their postural and mobility needs. That modified scan is then sent to a 3D printer which makes the orthoses. The Orthotist will then check and modify the orthotic to make sure it meets your child’s needs and it is sent to Ballina ready for your child’s fitment appointment. We can send you videos and additional information links about this process you are keen for more information. 

Who will do the assessment and fitment?

A skilled and qualified Orthotist will conduct the assessment and fitment appointments via a telehealth. They will be assisted by skilled, specifically trained, local allied health professionals who will be in Ballina with you and your child. 

Can parents attend the assessment and fitment appointments?

Yes of course! Any support person for the child can attend the appointment; just let Karen know when you are finalising the appointment. 

Do you need a referral?

No. If Orthotic services are in your child’s NDIS plan, you do not need a referral. 

When can you access this service?

The service should be available in late 2022. Call Karen today to express your interest in receiving this service so an appointment can be scheduled when the service is available. 

What do the orthoses look like?

Below are some pictures of what the orthoses look like. Your child will be able to choose their own colour and design. 

Who is involved in this project?

The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation is generously funding this collaboration between Northcott, Ability Made and Northcott Innovation. Northcott is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit disability service organisations and provides services from metropolitan and regional locations throughout NSW and the ACT. Ability Made are a for-purpose company that partners with orthotists to provide the optimal balance between fit, comfort, prescription and structural integrity. Northcott Innovation explores and creates new and unexpected solutions with people with disability for people with disability. 

Why is this project important?

This project allows children with disability and their families living in the Northern Rivers region to receive Orthotic services and orthotic devices that normally require travel to major cities (Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle etc). Removing the need for travel greatly reduces expenses for families. If this service model is successful, we hope it can be replicated in other regional areas throughout Australia. 

Have a question?

If you have any questions about this project, please reach out to the NI Team:

Phone: (614) 28 171 326


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