Losing any part of the body can be devastating and when it is a limb it could be more difficult. This is because the hands and legs are very important parts of the body needed for movement and to carry out essential functions. Hands are especially crucial for manipulation, picking, griping, and doing stuff like eating, reaching for things, etc. The leg most importantly helps in walking and easy movement from place to place.
Sometimes, due to accidents and in rare cases diseases as well as other situations such as birth defects, the limbs may need to be amputated. When this happens, the individual becomes disabled, a term that refers to the loss of an ability that should naturally be available to every individual. To rectify this, there is an option of a transplant but this has its issues as there is a need for a suitable donor and it is a relatively new field. Thankfully, science has made some impressive advances, offering a solution in the form of prosthetic limbs.
What are Prosthetics?
A prosthetic in medicine is an addition, an attachment, implant, or an application that is used to replace a missing part of the body. Prosthetics can sometimes be referred to as artificial limbs. They play very important roles in rehabilitation from an injury and trauma resulting from the loss of a limb. This helps improve mobility in the patient, giving them the independence and the ability to carry out daily activities without having to rely on others for assistance.
Prosthetics can either be handmade or computer designed using software in 2-D or 3-D designs and graphics. They are typically unique and no two are the same as each is designed to fit an individual’s body, taking into account their size and weight. You can see this article to learn more about this.
Parts of a Prosthetics
There are various designs of prosthetics but they typically have similarities in their parts. These can include:
- The socket. This is where the stump left from the limb that has been amputated will be inserted. You will usually find that silicone or foam is used to line it as a way of protecting the stump. Also, specially designed socks will need to be worn to cover the stump, giving it proper fitting and improved comfort.
- The suspension is used to hold the prosthesis to the stump.
- The Shaft
- The hand, foot, and hook
- An optional covering for aesthetics and cosmetic appearances.
How are they Made?
There are a number of steps involved in designing and producing prosthetics that will become an effective and fully functioning artificial limb. To create one, a prosthetist will take the patient’s measurement before amputation and may talk to the surgeon to get information about the amputation. When the wound from surgery is healed and free from swelling, the prosthetist will take a fiberglass or plastic mold cast of the leftover part of the limb. This cast will serve as a guide for making the artificial limb.
From here, the prosthetist goes through the process of creating one and meticulously modifies the cast into something wearable. This is used to make a plastic replica of the limb and used for fitting. After the fitting is achieved, then more durable materials such as acrylic or carbon fiber are used to make the prosthetic.
In doing all these, important factors like the location of muscles, bones, tendons and the overall health of the patient are usually put into consideration. The artificial limb is therefore designed such that it is comfortable and functional. Actions that some of these finished products can carry out can include eating, holding, walking, running, swimming, driving, etc.
Another important thing, when it comes to the lower limb, is that the prosthetic must be designed in a way that fits into the patient’s unique gait. This is achieved by mechanical adjustment to the artificial limbs with the amputee using them in a simulated environment.
There are different levels of customization when it comes to prosthetics. Each one in itself is unique and customized to an amputee’s distinctive body. They can also be designed with a variety of options for special uses or aesthetics. These special uses may include sports usage such as skiing and running.
Manufacturers such as http://www.mobilityprosthetics.com can help you produce prosthetics that can be adapted for use in different activity scenarios, allowing you as a patient to lead a normal life. Accessories can also be added for specific purposes such as for eating, holding, and so on.
Different kinds of materials can be used to create prosthetics. This can include carbon fiber, thermoplastics, acrylic resin, aluminum, silicon, titanium, etc. When creating one with a real-life appearance, a flexible skin-like covering is usually applied over a foam cover which is applied and shaped in such a way that it closely matches the real limb.
The goal of each prosthetic is to create one that will fit into the lifestyle of the patient so adjustments are made as needed to achieve this.
Choosing and Using Prosthetics
Making the right choice requires the careful consideration of some factors. These can include the following:
- The condition of the leftover limb
- The kind of activities it would be used for.
- The level and location of the amputation.
After the fitting is done, the patient needs to go through physical therapy. This helps the person learn how to use the artificial limbs. This is an important part of the whole process as it can be quite challenging to use at the initial stages.
After a while, there is a possibility that your body changes as you may lose or gain weight. When this happens, your prosthetics may become too tight or too big and this can cause irritation or discomfort. If this is the case, your artificial limbs will need to be re-evaluated and adjusted as needed. Your prosthetist will be able to make the necessary adjustments.
The loss of a limb can be life-changing but it is not a death sentence. You still have a chance at enjoying the use of your hands and legs by fixing an artificial one. The good news is that with current advancements made in this field, the loss does not have to affect your lifestyle as a prosthetic can be customized to your unique needs so you can live your life as normally as possible.