The term prosthesis derives through New Latin from the Greek word Prostithenai, meaning “to add to,” which is from pros, “to”, and Tithenai ", to put/to place". A prosthetic device is a medical device that serves as a replacement for a specific body part such as the leg, arm or breast. With the assistance of a prosthetic, patients suffering from loss of a limb can get around more easily, play sports and avoid losing out on what they enjoy most.
Each prosthetic device has a specific function to serve and replaces the amputated area’s role. There are four main types of prosthetics:
A trans-radial prosthetic covers a point in the arm below the elbow. This type of prosthetic contains both the forearm and wrist. The latest model encompasses wires and cables that give the arm a robotic feel yet appear fully functional.
A transhumeral prosthetic covers the part of the arm above the elbow. This prosthetic is often the hardest to fit because of its position in the upper extremity and its mode of functionality. A common form of attachment is through suction or roll-on linear system.
A trans-tibial prosthetic rests below the knee. This means a significant portion of the healthy leg places increased pressure on the prosthetic. A transfemoral prosthetic is placed just above the knee. However, the remaining portion of the limb is shorter than the prosthetic, so it will take longer to recover. A person with a transfemoral prosthetic requires at least 80 per cent more energy to walk.
A breast prosthesis is a prototype of a breast used to mimic the natural shape, weight and size of the breast. Breast prosthetics are required after undergoing a partial or total mastectomy to treat breast cancer. After removing breast tissue with traces of cancer, surgeons can conduct flap or fat transfer procedures to fill the breasts. Without these surgeries, patients request breast prostheses to fill up their chests.
How do you make a prosthetic?
Amputee patients are given time to select a prosthetic they are most comfortable with. Then, a scan is done on the remaining limb, or a cast is made to create a mould. This mould serves as the prosthetic limb. However, certain factors, such as the individual's activity level, physical capacity, functional demands, and general health status, are also considered.
A prosthesis is made up of different, intricately layered components in order for it to function at its best which include:
- A silicone gel that lines the residual limb-the viscoelastic material prevents damage to the skin and controls the amount of pressure applied to the surface.
- A carefully thought-out suspension system for the prosthetic to attach to the remaining part of the body.
- A solid plastic socket where the remaining limb with the gel lining fits into.
- A foam material that provides anatomic shape to the prosthetic.
- An artificial skin casing that covers the anatomic shape and matches the patient’s skin tone, making it appear like a natural part of the body. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Compatibility is a significant consideration when manufacturing and fitting a brand new prosthetic. For example, how successful will rehabilitation be with the new prosthetic? And how compatible is it with the remaining limb? What is the probability of the prosthetic functioning as the limb did before?
Once the new limb/prosthetic is done being manufactured, post prosthetic gait rehabilitation can begin. Primarily, a prosthetic is made to help the patient regain functionality. While prostheses like breast prostheses are designed to facilitate external appeal, fundamentally, these devices serve a greater purpose by assisting patients in reclaiming their confidence. Furthermore, while a breast prosthesis carries an external function, the device prevents chest pain and protects the area from injury.
How do you fit a prosthetic?
A prosthetist first considers certain factors such as weight, temperature and water retention when fitting a prosthetic. Several visits are required beforehand before deciding on the right prosthetic.
There are various ways of creating a prosthetic through digital imaging or injection moulding and suction. Typically, prosthetic limbs are made of plastic polymers that bond fabric layers to create durable yet lightweight artificial limbs.
The fitting process is simple once the socket fits and performs well. Afterwards, physical therapy and rehabilitation are ongoing.
Design considerations include the strength and weight of the attachment, materials needed to design the prosthetic and the overall cost of the artificial attachment.
Breast prostheses are carefully moulded to look and feel like natural breasts. The outer part is even and soft and may have an outline in the shape of a nipple; this depends on the patient’s preferences and specifications. Women who choose not to undergo reconstructive surgery have no other option but to opt for breast prostheses. While these devices serve an external/cosmetic purpose, they also help balance the chest and prevent injury.
Use a damp cloth and mild soap to clean the inside of the prosthetic. Be sure to clean out the part that makes contact with your skin as well as the soft liner or rubber padding if there is any. Try not to immerse the artificial component in water, and always dry the prosthetic once you are done cleaning it.
As part of our services, we ensure comprehensive patient care by advising patients on how to fit and care for their prostheses. We also offer repair services in terms of maintaining the device due to wear and tear over the years or negligence in some cases.