Types of Prostheses

A prosthesis is a custom-made artificial limb which is designed to improve functionality of an upper or lower extremity. Lurie Children's team of specialists focuses on the following types of pediatric prostheses:

Upper Extremity Prostheses

There are three kinds of upper extremity prostheses: passive, body-powered and myoelectric. 

  • Passive prostheses are most often designed to improve the cosmetic appearance of a limb deficiency. While they have no active motion, they can improve functionality by creating a surface to stabilize objects. Most often, passive prostheses are prescribed as a first prosthesis for an infant.
  • Body-powered prostheses use cables and a harness to direct the movement of the prosthesis. The patient will use motion from other parts of their body to mechanically control their prosthetic limb.
  • Myoelectric prostheses are battery powered and use electrical signals sent from the patient’s muscle movements to operate the prosthesis.

Depending on your child’s amputation and activity level, there is a wide selection of prosthetic components and designs to choose from.

Lower Extremity Prostheses

The first component of the prosthesis is the socket. This is the portion of the prosthesis that encompasses the patient’s residual limb. There are various socket designs available which are customized to ensure comfort and functionality. Suspension is the term used to describe the way that the prosthesis stays on the patient’s body. Suspension of the prosthesis will vary based on your child’s needs and activity level. Examples of lower extremity prosthetic suspension include pin locking, lanyard, and suction. Prosthetic feet are often selected based on your child’s activity level, weight, and size. For a patient requiring a prosthetic knee there are generally two categories available: microprocessor and non-microprocessor. A non-microprocessor knee joint such as a mechanical or pneumatic joint, uses well-designed componentry to ensure safety and stability while walking and standing. A microprocessor knee joint is a computerized, battery powered knee that uses sophisticated technology to improve the way you walk.

Choosing a Design

Prosthetic design choice is determined by several factors including age, personal goals, activity level, and lifestyle choices. Cosmetic appearance of the prosthesis is another important design consideration. We can personalize any prosthesis to increase confidence while wearing the device. Our prosthetists will discuss options with you and your child at length to decide which prosthesis is most appropriate.

Make an Appointment

After receiving a referral from a physician, you can make an appointment to have your child evaluated by calling our office at 312.227.6210 to schedule an appointment.