Amputation Rehabilitation Glossary
Alignment– Alignment refers to the relative position of your socket and all of your prosthetic components. Your prosthetist will align your lower limb prosthesis so that you can walk efficiently and safely with it. An upper limb prosthesis is aligned to provide a balance between function and cosmetic appearance.
Amputation – Limb loss resulting from injury, disease or another condition.
Bilateral – Both sides, i.e., bilateral below-knee amputation involves both the right and left leg.
Check socket (or test socket) – Your prosthetist will normally fit a clear plastic socket to your limb to visually inspect the fit and ensure that it makes total contact with your residual limb. The test socket can be trimmed, heated and contoured if changes to the fit are needed.
Congenital Limb Deficiency – Limb loss or limb difference present at birth.
Definitive prosthesis– A definitive prosthesis should last 2-5 years, and is fit after the residual limb has reached a stable volume. The definitive prosthesis is usually fit after you have completed gait training with a preparatory prosthesis.
Liner– Insert made of foam, silicone, urethane, or other gel material that is used for cushioning of the residual limb inside the socket. Some liners incorporate a pin or strap (lanyard) that is used for suspension of the prosthesis.
Myoelectric– A myoelectric upper-limb prosthesis detects muscle activity (myo=muscle) to control opening and closing of the prosthetic hand, or raising and lowering of the elbow.
Phantom limb sensation – When people have an amputation, they may have numb feelings, tingling, prickling in the limb that is missing. In some cases, sensations of hot and cold, as well as of wriggling toes or fingers, may also be present. Phantom limb sensation is normal and most people with amputations experience them to some degree.
Physiatrist– A doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Preparatory prosthesis– The first prosthesis is often called a preparatory prosthesis, because your limb will change shape quite dramatically during the first 6-12 months of use. Once the limb reaches a stable volume and you have completed your initial gait training, you will be fit with a definitive prosthesis.
Prosthesis – An artificial body part replacement.
Prosthetic socks – Socks made of cotton, wool, synthetic fibers, or gel-impregnated materials allow for small changes in limb size and add to the comfort of the prosthesis.
Prosthetic Technician– A prosthetic technician is responsible for the fabrication of your prosthesis. A technician may also work with you to perform repairs, maintenance or to finish your custom shaped cover.
Prosthetist – A healthcare professional who is responsible for evaluating and fitting individuals with artificial limbs.
Residual limb – The portion of the limb which remains after amputation.
Rigid Removable Dressing (RRD) – This is a removable cast that is used for protection of the residual limb, reduction of swelling, and shaping of the residual limb before prosthetic fitting can occur.
Shrinker– A compression sock that is used to reduce swelling in the residual limb after amputation surgery. You will continue to wear a shrinker at night and any time you are not wearing your prosthesis for the first few months or until your limb reaches a stable volume.
Sleeve – Stretchy tube of elastic, latex, rubber, neoprene or silicone, which is pulled over the outside edge of the prosthesis. The prosthesis then slides on to the residual limb and the sleeve is folded on to the thigh.
Socket – The part of the prosthesis that is custom made to fit your limb. The socket is shaped to distribute pressure comfortably throughout your limb.
Suspension – The method of holding the prosthesis on to the body.