Do you know what a prosthetic is? It is a device that is designed to replace or supplement a missing arm, leg, foot, digit (toe), rib, hip joint. Prosthetics are artificial hands, arms, or legs used to replace the ones lost to injury, illness, or congenital defects. A prosthetic is fitted over the original limb and can be made from metal, plastic, wood, or other materials. The procedure often takes many hours and may require general anesthesia. Prosthetics have been around for centuries and have evolved dramatically over the years. This article will cover everything you need to know about prosthetics, including the types of prosthetics available today.

Types of Prosthetics

There are many different types of prosthetics. The type of prosthetic is determined by the cause for which it is needed.

Joint Prosthetics: These are used to replace a hip or knee joint. These may be permanent or removable such as an artificial knee joint after surgery for a replacement. They are made of plastic or metal.

Arm Prosthesis

These are used to replace an arm that has been lost or when an arm is missing due to illness or congenital condition. It can be used either as a one-armed replacement of the entire right side of the body or a bionic replacement that replaces both arms and includes hand controls. They are made of metal, plastic, or silicone.

Leg Prosthesis

These are used to replace a leg that has been lost or to replace the entire right side of the body. These are made of metal, plastic, wood, or ceramic.

Cosmetic Prosthesis

These are used to replace a body part that has been lost or lost a lot of its normal function due to illness, injury, or aging. They are made of metal, plastic, wood, or ceramic. Their purpose is to make the person feel better by replacing the loss instead of restoring normal function.

Bionic Prosthesis

These are artificial limbs that incorporate a variety of new technologies. They can emulate the function and appearance of a natural limb.

Multi-Purpose Prosthetics

These are used to replace multiple body parts instead of one individual body part, such as a hand, typically a wrist joint with finger and thumb prosthesis, or a thumb, index (middle) finger, and middle finger in one prosthetic frame.


The vascular prosthetic replaces a lost limb if the patient did not lose a limb from trauma or disease.


These are used to replace missing limbs with an artificial limb, such as an arm, foot, or leg, when the original was amputated due to trauma or disease process.


Traumatic prosthetics are used when the original limb has been lost due to an injury.

Nervous System Prosthesis

These types of prosthetic limbs reconnect nerves with the brain so that messages and sensations can pass from a person’s thoughts or actions and be controlled by nerve impulses. The patient must first have partial limb amputation. Surgical procedures then alter the nervous system.

A basic prosthetic has four main parts:

1. Socket: This is where the body’s limb attaches to the prosthetic arm or leg. The socket may be covered in fabric and leather skin and should fit comfortably over the remaining stump. Both short-term and long-term prosthetics have a socket, which is usually made of a lightweight, durable plastic laminate that resembles the shape of a natural limb.

2. Connectors: This is the prosthetic part that connects to nerves and muscles in the body. [There are two types of connectors (and if we are talking about a bionic hand, probably six or seven as well):

2a. Cable connector: The cable connector is made up of a lead wire threaded through the limbs’ muscle mass attached to a plastic clasp that can close around the base of a lower arm or leg.

2b. Mechanical connectors: The mechanical connector moves when the person flexes or extends their shoulder, elbow, or wrist, and it is made up of a plastic socket attached to a metal rod. A moving piece in the middle translates this movement into motion for the prosthetic arm or leg.]

3. Pivoting Mechanism: This is how the hand, fingers, and thumb are connected. They are connected by a special hinge that allows the fingers, thumb, and palm to move in any direction with ease.

4. Hand Mechanism: This is where the hand attaches to the forearm of the left or right arm. The hand mechanism comes in two different styles: one with a fixed position and can be used with most all other prosthetic devices, and another called a rotational wrist/hand that provides increased functionality.

In the fixed-position, a special locking device is used. This means that the hand can be in one position and not be moved. There is no locking device in the rotational wrist/hand so that the hand can rotate 360 degrees to any posture.

Benefits of Prosthetics

Prosthetics are an important part of the treatment of a person with a physical disability. The benefits of using prosthetics are:

  • Improved independence and quality of life for the amputee.
  • Improved physical appearance for the amputee.
  • Reduced stigma for the amputee.


Many types of prosthetics can be used, allowing the patient to choose a prosthesis that meets their needs. The newer technologies can allow more options and improvements in function as opposed to the older technologies where there was no real noticeable improvement with function over time. As a result, prosthetics have made it possible for many people with physical disabilities to enjoy a much-improved quality of life.