Firstly, a prosthetic, otherwise known as a prosthesis, is an artificial limb that is made to fit those who have lost a limb. Prosthetic limbs are an amazing invention that creates endless possibilities as well as accessibility for those with limb loss. Ever evolving, prosthetics come in all shapes, sizes, looks, brands, including but not limited to the vast variety of accessories. Today, we are going to talk a little more about these bad boys and hopefully, you’ll have clicked out of this blog knowing something you hadn’t known the day before.
An average prosthetic lasts around 3 to 5 years, depending. This is due to an assortment of things a few being that, if you are a new amputee – your residual limb or “stump” still needs time to process that there is no longer a limb present. As time goes by and with weight fluctuations, your stump can either shrink or enlarge resulting in the need to cast a new prosthetic.
All prosthetics are custom-made to fit each individual patient. Due to the vast majority of people living with limb loss, there is a multitude of factors that a Prosthetist will look at while deciding on what type of limb will work best for you. This can range from age, weight, health, and lifestyle. An amputee who is an athlete will have better luck with a prosthetic limb that targets the high-level competition lifestyle, such as a prosthetic that is specifically made for swimming, cycling, running, and so on. While a diabetic patient who has a lower-limb amputation might have better luck with a lightweight prosthetic that has a flexible, durable socket design that is easily used for important attributes due to the likelihood of sores and infection that may occur.
The “socket” of a prosthetic is also custom-made to fit the patient’s residual limb and is typically made of carbon fiber and resembles the shape of a cup which the residual limb is place into. There are also multiple ways of holding a prosthetic limb on that all starts with the socket. This includes suction, locking, and elevated vacuum. Often times amputees wear a silicone gel liner that is placed over the residual limb before the residual limb is placed inside of the socket. This creates a more comfortable fit and protects the limb while walking.
Phantom pain sensation is the feeling that the missing limb is still attached to the body. In many cases, it can be quite painful. There are often times when I can still feel the sensation of having stepped on a piece of glass or curling my toes. When my amputations were fresh I could feel the backside of my leg, though it was merely the skin that had been folded over to make a stitch in the front of my residual limb.
I hope this answers some of the questions you may have about prosthetic limbs!