Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the different types of prosthetics, let’s first discuss what a prosthetic is and the kind of person who may benefit from it.
A prosthetic is an artificial body part that restores appearance and/or function to the user—the complexity of the prosthetic will determine if it is solely to restore appearance or if it will provide function to the user as well.
Prosthetics benefit those who have lost a limb, whether because of an accident, cancer treatment, diabetes, severe infection, or any other instance causing the loss of a limb.
A prosthetic should not be confused with an orthotic. An orthotic only supports a limb or body part, whereas a prosthetic replaces it. For example, an artificial arm is a prosthetic, while a wrist splint is an orthotic.
Within the realm of prosthetics are different types regarding the appendage they replace. There are four categories: transfemoral, transradial, transhumeral, and transtibial.
– Transhumeral – an artificial arm that attaches between the shoulder and elbow
– Transradial – an artificial arm that attaches below the elbow
– Transfemoral – an artificial leg that attaches between the hip and knee
– Transtibial – an artificial leg that attaches below the knee
As expected, the more joints encompassed by a prosthetic, the more complex the prosthetic must be. Furthermore, prosthetics for the legs must also be able to handle your body’s weight, adding an extra level of complexity to their design and mechanics.