Definition of Prosthetic Limbs

Prosthetic Limbs – An artificial arm, hand, leg, or foot that provides functional replacement for an amputated or missing limb.

A prosthesis represents a balance between function and presentable appearance. Prosthetic limbs available today can provide a very high level of function, allowing many people to return to nearly the same lifestyle as before the amputation.

Selection and fitting of the prosthesis can take place as soon as the amputation stump heals from the surgery. The prosthesis must attach firmly to the amputation stump, which is more difficult with high amputations (shoulder or hip). Factors that are important to consider include comfort and durability of the prosthesis.

Most often it is advantageous to begin using the prosthesis as soon as possible after the amputation, to return to normal daily living.

There are numerous designs and styles of prosthetic limbs; the prosthesis is fitted to the person to meet the person’s unique individual needs. Some prosthetic limb designs, particularly upper extremity, strive to appear as natural as possible.

Other designs are primarily functional. Some designs are mechanical and others are electronic. Some prostheses are for specific purposes, such as athletic activities (running, hiking, bicycling, downhill skiing). Other prostheses may be more oriented toward allowing the person to return to a particular occupation or skill.

See also OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY; QUALITY OF LIFE.

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