Upper Limb Prosthesis

The type of prosthesis you will be prescribed will depend on your specific needs and lifestyle.

There are two main types of prosthesis for the upper limb:

  •  Conventional Prosthesis - cable operated 
  •  Myoelectric Prosthesis - operated by electrical impulses produced by tightening (contracting) muscles

There are advantages and disadvantages to each and the health care team can discuss this with you.

With either type of prosthesis, Conventional or Myoelectric, your non-amputated or “good” arm will now become your dominant arm if you have a one-sided amputation. Over time you will become used to the weight of the prosthesis and you should be able to tolerate a full days wear.

Your stump will continue to shrink after wearing the prosthesis for some time. To get a better fit you may require a new socket or extra stump socks.

Training - Conventional Prosthesis

Before you begin to use your prosthesis there must be a comfortable fit and certain standards must be met.

You will learn how to move your shoulder to put tension on the cable, which controls the opening or closing of your terminal device (hook or hand). For someone with an above elbow amputation you will also learn how to move your shoulder to control the elbow unit.

It may take a few days to a week or more to become comfortable and able to use the prosthesis. Practice and learning will continue long after your training period ends.

Training - Myoelectric Prosthesis

Your training period will focus on your ability to tighten specific muscles in order to produce electrical impulses. These impulses are picked up by electrodes located in the wall of the socket and control the motor that opens and closes the terminal device (hand or hook).

Training can begin before your prosthesis is made, by using a “trainer” - a special biofeedback machine.