Prosthetics is the name given to the branch of surgery that deals with prosthesis, which is word given for the replacement of a missing body part with an artificial part. The artificial part is also called a prosthesis. Prosthetics is not a new branch of medicine, but has been around for thousands of years. The oldest known example of a prosthetic device is a wooden toe that was found attached to an Egyptian mummy’s foot.
Liaison between surgeon, prosthetist and patient usually starts before an amputation takes place.
This is because the technique used during surgery can vary from one case to another, and the outcome of the amputation will play an important role in the ultimate success of the amputee’s future life. Good communication between prosthetist and the patient is essential, and you can expect a visit from our prosthetist as early as the first day after your amputation. We fully understand the trauma that accompanies such a severe operation, and do everything possible to promote a sincere and strong relationship. We have found that most amputees form a strong bond with their prosthetist, and it is essential that you feel completely at ease with your prosthetist so as to give honest feedback regarding the comfort and fit of your prosthesis.
Prostheses are made for all types of operations; above knee amputations, amputations between knee and ankle, and total knee replacements being just three examples. The design of the prosthesis will depend on where your amputation has taken place. As an example a prosthesis for a below-knee amputation will consist of a socket into which the stump fits, a shin or shank and a foot. It can be attached in a number of ways, a common way being suction between socket and stump. In some cases the stump can be attached mechanically to the prosthetic limb.
Most sockets are made from carbon fibre with a silicone lining. The shank can either be a hollow casing, or a tube, known as a pylon, that is covered with foam and with a flexible outer “skin”. This is known as an endoskeletal prosthesis. You will be given the choice of a number of varieties of artificial foot.