Losing a part of the body can be one of the most difficult challenges to face. It can feel like your whole world is turned upside down once you begin to imagine how you’d adapt to the big change. For someone who has grown up with a complete set of limps to lose say, the dominant arm, getting stuff done can become really challenging.
Many amputees go through therapy to come to terms with the new way of life. It’s a big change that most people are never prepared for. But losing an arm, a leg, or some other parts of the body shouldn’t mean giving up on life. Although it’s easier said than done, there are amputees that have been able to adapt to life without a leg, arm, and even a hip, thanks to prosthetic implants.
There are many prosthetics companies, and it is important that you find and work with the most experienced and
skilled ones. You can visit sites like https://www.mobilityprosthetics.com for information on how to get started.
Prosthetics and Prosthesis
Prosthetics is the branch of medicine that deals with assessing, designing, fabricating, and fitting a prosthesis to replace a missing body part. People often confuse prosthetics for prosthesis, however, the two are not the same. Prothesis is an artificial replacement or substitute of a missing part of the body such as a leg, arm, hip, a knee or another joint, a facial bone, tooth, or eye, etc.
An amputee using a removable prosthesis such as an artificial arm is advised to have more than one available to handle different tasks. Other types of prostheses such as an artificial tooth, or hip are implanted permanently in the body.
Over the years, biomedical sciences have advanced quickly, making significant progress in artificial body parts. It’s both exciting and impressive to know that a few experimental prostheses have successfully been integrated with body tissues, including the very complex and complicated nervous system. These advanced devices respond to commands from the central nervous system, nearly mimicking normal movement, and utility.
Types of Prosthesis
There are four main types of prostheses used in prosthetics. The type used in any situation depends on the extent of the amputation and its location.
This prosthesis is an artificial arm that replaces the arm missing below the elbow; there are two main options. The cable-operated device works using a harness and cable that are connected to the affected shoulder and the opposite one. The other option is the myoelectric arm that works by sensing muscle movement in the arm via sensors, causing the artificial arm to open or close.
This is a prosthesis that replaces an arm missing above the elbow but below the shoulder. This artificial arm is much more complicated than the transradial prosthesis because of the missing elbow. This makes compensating for movement a lot more complex and challenging.
A transhumeral device can be active or passive. In prosthetics, passive protheses serve cosmetic purposes while active ones are meant to function just like the lost arm. Today, most transhumeral artificial limbs use myoelectric sensors, however, some combine both these specialized sensors and cable to move the limb.
The transtibial prosthesis is fitted below the knee. This prosthesis is less complicated than others due to the presence of the knee. With the knee present for movement, the primary function of the device is to help distribute weight and provide comfort to the amputee. That said, amputees still need to undergo rehabilitation on walking as the artificial foot doesn’t move.
Of these four main types of prosthesis, the transfemoral easily qualifies as the most challenging since it replaced a leg cut above the knee. The amputee’s hip motion controls the prosthetic knee joint, an action that will be largely influenced by the strength of the residual limb. Transfemoral prostheses are made from polypropylene, a high-quality raw material. Click here to learn more about polypropylene.
Regaining normal movement with this prosthesis is usually a difficult process for most transfemoral amputees. In fact, compared to people with two whole legs, this group of amputees uses about 80% more energy when walking. This is largely because movement associated with the knee is highly complex.
Thankfully, there have been improvements in this area as newer, improved designs give users more control. These new designs feature carbon fiber, motors, hydraulics, computer microprocessors, and mechanical linkages.
Upper Limb Prosthesis
As you know, the hand is part of nearly every physical activity carried out by us humans. Losing just an arm can have an impact on a person’s identity, career, and even relationships. As we mentioned earlier, therapy is usually an important aspect in dealing with amputation.
Replicating the movement of the hand can be quite daunting as it is quite complex. Amputees usually have two different types of prostheses to help with everyday activities and specialized activities.
Types of Prosthesis for the Upper Limb
The following are the five main types of this class of prostheses:
- Externally powered
Prosthesis for the Lower Limb
When it comes to prostheses for the lower limb, there are different options to choose from. As a matter of fact, there are about 200 types of knees and about 350 systems for foot and ankle. The amputee’s situation is evaluated by the prosthetist to decide on which foot and joint components would be most suitable. The right fit should provide the best balance as well as gait efficiency.
Types of Prostheses for the Lower Limb
The following are the three broad types that you will find:
- Sport-specific foot and knee systems
- Prosthetic foot/ankle systems
- Prosthetic knee systems.
Prosthetics generally aim to provide mobility to amputees. However, some procedures go beyond just providing simple mobility. These enable amputees to participate in high-impact activities like jumping and running. Simply put, the components of prostheses are customized to meet the different goals of amputees.
Aside from providing mobility, prostheses must be comfortable for users to truly benefit from them. Luckily, advances are being made in cushioning materials, making these artificial devices much more comfortable for patients.
As technology continues to advance, we hope to see even more advanced prostheses. So advanced that amputees never have to feel like they lost any part of their body. This is what prosthetists hope to achieve one day, and so far, new designs show tremendous potential.