How Do Prosthetics Work? Let the Experts Answer.
For more than 185,000 Americans each year, facing the long road ahead following the amputation of a limb is a daunting prospect. Artificial limbs, also called prosthetics, are a lifesaver and can do so much to increase a patient’s quality of life and make life feel closer to normal again. If you’re a patient of loved one researching the process of creating, fitting and learning to use a prosthetic, here’s what you need to know.
How do prosthetics work: how they’re made
Because how much a prosthetic weighs is a very important factor for patient satisfaction, they’re usually made with the lightest weight materials, and that’s the beginning of how prosthetics work. Modern prosthetics for everyday use are typically fashioned out of some type of carbon fiber with a flesh-colored covering. Lightweight materials like titanium and aluminum are also used in their construction. These materials are formed together to fit a mold that has been made from the amputation site and specific patient measurements.
Measurements and fittings
Once a patient is carefully fitted for their prosthetic device, the mold is cast, and a prosthetic is created, the first of many fittings will occur. Prosthetists will use these opportunities to fine-tune and improve upon how well the prosthetic fits the patient. Small adjustments will be made to the prosthetic based on the observations and findings in the fitting appointments before the patient is sent home with the final product.
How do prosthetics work: learning to use them
Once your prosthetic emerges from the lab, you might be tempted to try it on for size and get moving. That’s not exactly how prosthetics work. Learning to live with a prosthetic, especially a leg or an arm, takes more patience because there is a learning process. Oftentimes, a patient will go through physical therapy with their prosthetic which makes it easier to learn to use the medical device and greatly impacts long term satisfaction with the device.