Last Updated on Nov 17, 2016

How to Use/Basic Features

"Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness." - Louise Hart

The basic features of a typical artificial limb include a custom fitted socket, a pylon or the main framework and the suspension system made up of knee cuffs or belts for attaching the limb to the body. Realistic looking skin is used in some cases to make the limbs look as natural as possible because the amputee is most often very particular about the physical appearance of the artificial limbs and would prefer it to naturally merge with the rest of the body. Modern plastics, better pigments and advanced molding techniques have made realistic looking artificial limbs available for the amputee.

It is important that artificial limbs or prosthetics be made from lightweight material so the user can control the movement of the limbs comfortably. Replacing the heavy iron and steel pylons of early days, artificial limbs began using lightweight pylons made of metals and alloys such as titanium, aluminium and duralumin. Modern artificial limbs have pylons manufactured from carbon fiber composites usually covered with foam that can be dyed to suit the userís skin shade for a natural appearance.

The portion of the artificial limb that accommodates the patientís limb stump is known as the socket. Polypropylene is generally preferred for making the socket and is usually lined with a soft material to make the socket rest more comfortably. Insufficient padding can irritate the skin at the place of contact, hence some users prefer using prosthetic socks made of cotton or soft synthetic materials to help the socket fit better.

Suspension system involves the use of harnesses, belts and straps to connect the artificial limb to the personís stump. Some artificial limbs can connect to the patient's stump by means of suction.

Artificial limbs need a control system to facilitate movement. For example the upper arm can be controlled through:

  • Body power - controlled through a Ďcable mechanismí
  • External power - uses battery energy or myoelectric sensors
  • Hybrid power - uses a combination of the above two

Myoelectric artificial limbs developed in the 20th century use the technique of moving artificial limbs with electric signals from the personís arm muscles. It was successfully tried on adults and now children have begun using myoelectric artificial limbs.

Physical Therapy

After getting an artificial limb, the patient has to become comfortable using the limb in day to day activities. Parallely, the person must be trained by a physiotherapist to do special exercises that will strengthen the muscles moving the artificial limbs. Persons fitted with artificial legs or feet gradually learn to get in and out of bed/ car without help and improve their gait so that they can walk without a limp that reveals their artificial leg.

More than causing a physical disability, an amputation causes the patient to suffer a psychological, economic and social handicap which can be overcome to a certain extent by using artificial limbs. Any successful rehabilitation programme for amputees should follow a regular pattern consisting mainly of pre-amputation counselling, accurate amputation surgery, post amputation care involving psychotherapy, prosthetic fitting and periodic follow up, vocational training if necessary and reintegration into the community for which the community at large has to cooperate wholeheartedly.

A Support group involving other amputees will help those newly fitted with artificial limbs adapt to their situation faster and with greater confidence.


@Guest Thursday, November 30, 2017

I have lost my left leg in accident and its got amputed from knee. I am going to put artificial leg but I am confused wheter I can bend my leg from knee because I have got amputed from knee, I mean just exactly from knee

Pointernational Saturday, September 19, 2015

One of my brother lost his leg in an accident so he needs artificial limbs, I really found good information to help my brother...

MJALI Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dear sir, This comment for my brother in law he lost his leg below the knee [ some portion is there in below knee ] in road accident recently. He is under treatment for fixing artificial leg, how long will take time and how much will be cost.

anand538 Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dear sir i have lost my right hand in an accident. So i can replace it with artificial hand. D don't know about the whole process so can you suggest about all. Pls help me. As soon as possible....

sanjay100566 Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sir My son lost left hand from elbow in papad machine at 4 year old. Kindly give the new artificial working hand so he can do his work in both hand and drive vehicle.

@Guest Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dear Mr. Sanjay,
We offer Complete Rehab facility associated with fitting and training of various Prosthesis including Myoelectric Upper limb Systems and Microprocessor controlled Lower Limb Systems.

View More Comments

Most Popular on Medindia