Prosthetic Limbs

Prosthetic Legs

Introduction To Prosthetic Legs

Prosthetic legs are widely defined as artificial limbs which are used to replace the void if the leg has been amputated. James Edward Hanger who had his leg amputated during wartime in 1861 wore the first prosthetic leg. Although there are many varied models of prosthetic legs developed today, all contemporary prosthetic legs feature three key components: the pylon, socket as well as the suspension system.

Key Components Of A Prosthetic Leg

The pylon acts like the spine in ensuring a good overall support structure. In the past, the pylon was either made of wood or metal. However, modern technology makes it possible for pylons to be made of lightweight carbon fibre. This makes the pylon light but durable. In addition, a pylon can be further developed to imitate a real leg by adding plastic material and then dyeing this material to match the amputee's skin colour.

The socket is the part of the prosthetic leg which attaches to the stump. It is important that a socket is fitted tightly yet comfortably so that it does not cause any irritation to the skin and allow the amputee to maximise the use of the prosthesis optimally. Therefore, the socket is assisted by a prosthetic sock to ensure a good fit. However, those opting for the direct bone attachment method will have no such issues with the socket. This method uses a bolt made from titanium to insert into the bone at the stump. After a couple of months, the bone grows over the bolt and connects itself to the bolt. This will allow the amputee to wear the prosthesis for longer durations as it does not cause irritation to the skin at the socket.

The suspension system mainly helps the prosthesis in attaching itself to the body. Some systems function using a harness system and others rely on suction. It all depends on which type of amputation has been performed. For example, amputations above the knee will generally require the use of a harness system while amputations below the knee will most likely be operating on suction.

Customising Prosthetic Legs

While prosthetic legs were not produced exclusively to suit the needs of individual amputees in the past, it has become relatively widespread today for amputees to receive their very own customised prosthetic leg. This ensures a higher level of comfort and greater ease of operating the prosthesis by the wearer. Although this customisation trend results in more costly prosthetic legs, there are still affordable prosthetic models to choose from at private clinics.

Advantages Of Prosthetic Legs

Some amputees would rather choose a wheelchair instead of prosthetic legs but they are failing to see the advantages prosthetic legs can offer. Opting for prosthetic legs will certainly promote a greater sense of personal independence as well as mobility. For example, the wearer of prosthetic legs has the option of using the stairs or going to areas not easily accessible by the wheelchair.

It is also believed that using prosthetic legs instead of a wheelchair can enhance the psychological condition of the amputee because they may feel less alienated as it is harder to notice their disabilities compared with using a wheelchair. Having a healthy psychological stance will certainly help the amputees fit back into their lives again.