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Upper Limb Prosthetics

Upper Limb Prostheses

When suffering an upper limb loss, no matter what level, your life is changed drastically. It is well documented through studies that the more quickly you are fit with a prosthesis following the loss of a hand, the more you integrate the prosthesis into your life (you use the prosthesis more like it is part of your body). Let us help you through this trying time with a quick return to most of your prior activities. Below is a brief description of upper limb prosthesis types we offer:

Below Elbow and Above Elbow Prosthesis Design Options

Whether your amputation is below elbow (BE) or above elbow (AE), there are 4 categories of device types available:

  • Cosmetic (Passive) Prosthesis
    • In general, a prosthesis can be cosmetic, functional or both.
    • Some individuals choose to have a strictly cosmetic prosthesis because of its appearance, lower cost and lightweight design.
    • A passive/cosmetic prosthesis does not actively move, it does have a hand (with a glove that matches your skin color) and an upper arm and/or forearm to fill out your shirt sleeve. This prosthesis can be helpful by providing a surface for carrying or stabilizing objects.
  • Body-Powered Prosthesis
    • A body-powered prosthesis utilizes a harness and cable system to operate the hand and/or hook.
    • With this system, movement of your shoulders, chest and upper arm results in movement of the prosthetic elbow and hand/hook.
    • A body-powered prosthesis is very durable, reasonably lightweight and requires low maintenance.
  • Myoelectric Prosthesis
    • A myoelectric prosthesis is electrically powered (through a rechargeable battery) and has a motorized hand and/or elbow.
    • This type of prosthesis uses a muscle contraction (or muscle signal) to operate the prosthesis in place of the harness and cable system used by the body-powered type.
    • There are several different myoelectric hands, wrist and elbows which can perform a wide range of actions. If you are interested in this type of prosthesis, give us a call and we can help you determine which type is covered by your insurance.
    • A myoelectric prosthesis does weigh more than the other types of devices. It requires more care and maintenance, as you have to charge it nightly and you have to be very careful around water.
  • Hybrid Prosthesis
    • A hybrid prosthesis is a cross between a body-powered device and a myoelectric device.
    • It is normally a design used for an above elbow prosthesis, using a body-powered prosthetic elbow (which uses a harness and cable to operate) and a myoelectric hand.
    • The advantages of an above elbow hybrid prosthesis are being able to operate the elbow and hand at the same time (because they use different operating systems) and it is lighter weight than a full myoelectric AE prosthesis (while still having the benefits of the myoelectric hand).

Note: There are many activity-specific terminal devices (TD) that can be used in place of the hand or hook when participating in certain activities. Some examples include specialized TD for sports (volleyball, baseball, fishing, gymnastics, etc.—the list is endless). Most of these specialized TD will attach to whichever type of prosthesis you choose (except the cosmetic/passive type) and do not require a sport-specific prosthesis.

We’re your trusted guide throughout this entire process. If you’re ready to get started or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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