Sidebar: Orthotics and prosthetics, soft goods
* Coming on strong: Fueled by an aging baby boomer population, high obesity rates, rising diabetes cases, and returning war veterans, market analysts believe the O&P and soft goods business have strong retail sales potential. While reimbursable items are declining, the need for these products continues to be high and astute merchants can position themselves as a complete "go-to" source for O&P patients.
* Broad spectrum: The O&P and soft goods category can include a wide range of products, including orthotics and prosthetics of all types, women's health items, compression hosiery, diabetic shoes and socks, vitamins and nutrients, aids to independent living, clothing, specialty cushions and pillows, Hot/cold therapy and products to alleviate arthritis.
* A healing environment: The O&P category - particularly post-mastectomy forms - caters to oncology patients looking for a tranquil, compassionate, non-clinical environment that makes them feel comfortable. Creating a "survivorship" support group can help patients face social and emotional issues, as well as any long-term side effects.