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Amputations of the leg and the need for Prosthetics

Prosthetics is a scientific study dealing with the manufacture of artificial limbs. It deals with replacing an amputated or missing limb with an artificial one. The amputee may have suffered the loss of a limb or limbs through disease, or a congenital defect or because of trauma suffered.

Leg Amputation and Prosthetics

Leg amputation is a life-changing event that requires major adjustments in lifestyle. Given the recent advances in the field of prosthetics however, it is now possible to regain a major amount of movement after the traumatic effect of losing a leg.

Types of Leg Amputations

Leg amputations are of two types, above the knee, and below the knee. The former is called transfemoral and the later transtibial.

Transfemoral Prosthesis

A prosthesis is an artificial limb worn by the amputee. ‘Above the knee’ or transfemoral amputations are performed at the knee joint or above it. The prosthesis replicates the thigh, knee joint, ankle, and foot. Usually transfemoral prosthesis is not designed with aesthetics in mind as they are meant to be covered with a trouser.

Transtibial Prosthesis

Transtibial or ‘below the knee’ amputations are the ones between the knee and the ankle. They are made of a pylon and moveable joints.

Types of Prosthesis

Prothesis is of two types, exoskeletal prosthesis and endoskeleton prosthesis. The Exoskeletal type is heavier and less maneuverable but more durable. The Endoskeleton type is more flexible and lightweight.

There is a wide variety of prosthesis to choose from, according to the cost, the special requirements of the amputee and their goals and lifestyle.

The aquiline waterproof walking device, Helix 3-D, Triton, and ProCurve Sports Prosthesis are some of the many varieties nowadays available.

Knee Options

There is a variety of knee options available for Transfemoral prosthesis. Single Axis option allows the knee to move backward and forward, and the multi-axis option allows movement on various axis.

The kind of prosthesis chosen must be according to the amputee’s lifestyle and level of activity.

Fitting a prosthetic leg

After an amputation, the stump of the leg isn’t at once ready for the fitting of a prosthesis. There may be some initial swelling and structural remodeling of the scar before the stump becomes stabilized. Thus, an artificial leg cannot be immediately fixed. During the rehabilitation period, a kind of adjustable prosthesis is used to help with gait training and any ongoing physical therapy.

Once the residual limb or stump is stabilized the final prosthesis is fixed. It is custom manufactured by first getting the exact shape of the stump by a plaster of Paris cast. Then the socket is molded to the exact suitable shape using this cast. With the advent of 3-D printing, more exact fits are now possible. Good fitting restores mobility to a huge extent. The success of a prosthesis is determined by the fact that freedom of movement is restored with no abrasion and ill-fitting effects.

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