From surgery to rehabilitation to the fitting of your prosthesis – The journey: part 2 – Learning about prosthetic limbs and their technicalities

Modern prosthetics work so effectively nowadays and look so convincing that often, you may not be able to detect that one is being worn.  Those with prosthetic legs can often walk, run and even swim as though they were using natural limbs.   Nowadays, prosthetic technologies are available that enable the wearer of prosthetic arm and hands to have individual control of all five fingers. 

Prosthetic limbs rank high among the world’s greatest inventions and provide a great boosting in terms of optimism and independence – key factors in dramatically improving quality of life.

What do prosthetics involve?

Prosthetics, also known as artificial limbs, are an artificially constructed substitute for a limb that could have been lost through either a congenital condition which is present at birth, illness, wartime injury or accident. 

A cosmesis has little function and is worn for prosthetic reasons

A type of prosthetic known as a cosmesis is designed purely for cosmetic reasons and has little or no function.  Artificial hands often fall into this category. 

Other prosthetics are highly functional and have little or no cosmetic value, which artificial legs designed to be covered by trousers are a typical example and are often little more than metal rods and wires.

Types of prostheses

Any part of the body, from the ear or nose to the finger or toe could be replaced by a prosthesis in theory.  However, in practice there are four common types of prosthetic limbs that are designed to replace either a partial or complete loss of an arm or leg.

  • A below the knee, also known as a BK or transtibial prosthetic consists of a prosthetic  lower leg which is attached to an intact upper leg.
  • An above the knee, also known as a AK or tranfemoral prosthetic consists of a prosthetic lower and upper leg which includes a prosthetic knee,
  • A below the elbow, also known as a BE or transradial prosthetic consists of a prosthetic forearm.
  • An above the elbow, also known as a transhunmeral prosthetic consists of a prosthetic lower and upper arm which includes a prosthetic elbow.
  • Above the knee (AK, transfemoral): A prosthetic lower and upper leg, including a prosthetic knee.
  • Below the elbow (BE, transradial): A prosthetic forearm.
  • Above the elbow (AE, transhumeral): A prosthetic lower and upper arm, including a prosthetic elbow.

At Roger Wolfson and Associates we firmly believe that the more you know about what goes on behind the scenes with prosthetics, the better equipped you will be to get the best out of your new limb.  Give Roger a call on (011) 640 7198 and send an email to info@rogerwolfsonandassoicates.co.za