Prosthetics is the division of medicine that is dedicated to replacing missing body parts with artificial substitutes. A prosthesis is a reference to an ersatz body part. It is widely believed that prosthetics are constrained to artificial limbs; however prosthesis can range from manufactured teeth to synthetic breasts, or even artificial organs. Prostheses are typically used to replace parts lost by injury(traumatic), or missing from birth(congenital), to supplement defective body parts.
New advancements in technologies have made everyday living easier for those unfortunate enough to have lost a limb. Sadly advances in this particular area are fueled during times of war, where soldiers and innocents both require surgeries and amputations more commonly. Though with an epidemic in obesity and diabetes across America, there is sure to be more cause for advances in prosthetics in the future.

Types of Artificial Limbs

  • Transtibial Prostheses: Artificial limb that replaces a loss below the knee.
  • Transfemoral Prostheses: Artificial limb that replaces a loss above the knee. A difficult prosthesis due to the complexities inherent in the movement of the knee. Improved designs require very sophisticated technologies to give control to a user.prosthetics_01_550x360.jpg
  • Transradial Prostheses: Artificial limb that replaces a loss below the elbow. Either uses a cable operated limb or myolelectric arms.
  • Transhumeral Prostheses: Artificial limb that replaces a loss above the elbow. A difficult replacement due to the complexities inherent in the movement of the elbow(similar to transfemoral).

Other Types of Prosthesis

  • Robotic prosthesis: Used to help patients with prosthesis that involve motions giving by their own nervous system
  • Cosmetic prosthesis: Used to disguise injuries and disfigurements
  • Cognition prosthesis: Uses senses or modulate neural function in order to physically reconstitute or augment cognitive processes such as executive function, attention, language, and memory.

Technology & Prosthesis

Technology provides great resources in the development of new prosthesis for patients. Robotic and Myoelectricprosthesis are the most prominent of these new advances. Processors used in myoelectric arms has allowed for artificial limbs to make gains in fine tuned control of the prosthetic. Myoelectric prosthesis uses electromyography signals or potentials from voluntarily contracted muscles within a person's residual limb on the surface of the skin to control the movements of the prosthesis, such as elbow flexion/extension, wrist supination/pronation (rotation) or hand opening/closing of the fingers.


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Medal of Honor Winner Talks About Prosthetic Hand (Video)

It’s not everyday a prosthetic hand makes national news. But when President Barack Obama reached out to shake the prosthetic hand of Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry, the picture of the handshake captured a lot of folks’ hearts. Petry lost his hand and much of his forearm when he picked up a live grenade and attempted to throw it away from his fellow soldiers to save their lives. His heroic move earned him the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor.

NBC anchor Brian Williams interviewed Petry, specifically asking him about his prosthetic hand. Take a look at the interview.

Causes Of Amputation

Atherosclerosis - the narrowing of the arteries due to thickening of the arterial wall caused by fat, fibrous tissue and salts being deposited on it.

Birth defects - also referred to as congenital abnormalities are physical or mental imperfections that occur in newly born babies.

Buergers disease - or thromboangitis obliterans is a condition where there is swelling of mainly the blood vessels (arteries and veins) and nerves in the legs causing pain in the affected area.

Diabetes - a disease in which sugar and starch are not properly absorbed by the body as a result of a decrease in insulin or the hormone ADH.

Frostbite - refers to injury to body tissue due to freezing.

Gangrene - the decay or death of a body tissue due to restricted blood flow.

Infections - are communicable diseases that can be passed from one individual to another. They are almost always caused by other living organisms, especially microorganisms.

Lack of Blood Vessels - a condition that occurs as a result of blocked blood vessels due to swelling or narrowing. It almost always occurs when the body is exposed to low temperatures (below zero degree Celsius).

Necrotizing fasciitis - (also referred to as flesh eating disease) is an infection of the tissue beneath the skin by bacteria.

Punishment - surgery has been used as a form of punishment for crimes like theft and is still being used in other communities as a correctional method.

Raynaud's Phenomina - refers to a disorder in which the fingers or toes (digits) suddenly experience decreased blood circulation.

Tumor - an unusual growth of cells in the body due to mutation.

"Prosthetics." UXL Encyclopedia of Science. 2002. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from