Q: What are some of the different prosthetic devices that are available? How do I know which one I need?

A: A given prosthesis consists of three basic parts. Your socket is the custom made piece that will fit your residual limb perfectly and provides control, support, and suspension for the prosthesis. The fit of the socket is arguably the most important part of any prosthetic solution. The components on your prosthesis consist of adapters, tubes, screws, and level-specific components. (Feet, Knees, Hands, Elbows) Most of these components are modular and will be usable with just about any other types. The final part of a prosthesis is the suspension, or the mechanism that is responsible for keeping your prosthesis “attached” to your residual limb. A perfect fit along with the right suspension system can make your prosthesis feel lighter, more responsive, and more comfortable.

Sockets are always custom made and based off a mold created of your residual limb. Their features will vary based on your individual situation, as well as the components and suspension system you are using.

The basic types of suspension are mechanical locks, lanyards, suction and elevated vacuum. Different systems have their own advantages and disadvantages, however we generally prefer to use either suction or elevated vacuum whenever possible. Those two systems are scientifically proven to provide the most benefit to an amputee when compared to the other two.

Finally the components you receive will primarily be determined by your functional ability. Your functional ability will grant you access to different “levels” of components. Within each category of components are many different options that are available for you to try. Your prosthetist will likely have a recommendation based on their experience, but if you do not like what you receive, nearly all components have generous return policies that will allow you to try a different component within the same category. To read more on the functional levels, see our blog posts or resources page.