Information for Individuals with Upper Limb Difference


Life with Upper Limb Loss

No matter what your experience is with upper limb prosthetic devices, it can be a challenge to try and figure out all of the options that might be available to you. This section is designed to give you the information you need to understand what upper limb prosthetic solutions are available and to show you what upper limb prosthetic solutions are available from Össur.

Working with your Prosthetist after Amputation

As you continue recovering from amputation surgery, your doctor may refer you to a prosthetist, a medical professional who is specially trained to help people with limb loss and limb difference be fitted for a replacement or artificial limb, also known as a prosthesis or prosthetic limb.

You can contact your prosthetist’s office for an appointment, where you can discuss your recovery goals and together explore your prosthetics options.

Initial Prosthetic Fitting – The Temporary Socket

The first prosthetic you receive is always temporary because the shape of your residual limb will continue changing, especially in the weeks immediately after your amputation surgery. At your initial appointment, you will be first fitted with a temporary socket, which be a connection point between your residual limb and your prosthesis. The temporary socket can help you become accustomed to wearing a prosthesis. It also helps you become familiar with the processing of putting on and taking off your prosthesis, which is known as donning and doffing. You may need to have several temporary sockets fabricated during your rehabilitation, depending on how much your residual limb changes in volume and size. The components of each prosthesis you receive will be carefully selected by your prosthetist and tailor-made for you.

The Check Socket

During one of your appointments, your prosthetist will also likely fit you with a check socket, which is made of clear plastic so the prosthetist can visually evaluate the fit and determine if all of the components are properly aligned. The check socket is a kind of prototype, providing the information and measurements that be used in the final creation of your prosthesis. Because each person’s body is unique, your prosthesis will be custom designed for you, using a variety of components and accessories to best suit your individual anatomical needs.

Working with an Occupational Therapist

If you have had an upper limb amputation surgery involving your fingers, hand or arm, you are likely to also be referred for Occupational Therapy, to help you learn new ways of adjusting and practicing daily living activities.

Because adjusting to upper limb loss can be especially challenging, an Occupational Therapist can also help support you in your emotional and psychological well-being.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, a primary goal of an Occupational Therapist is to help you work with a prosthesis to gain more functionality, as well as make suggestions for compensations to try if you have not already been fitted with a prosthesis or choose not to wear one.

Phases of working with an occupational therapist

The process of working with an Occupational Therapist typically involves a number of phases, including: Acute, Pre-Prosthetic Training and Basic and Advanced Prosthetic Training.

Acute Phase

In this initial phase, the Occupational Therapist will perform an evaluation and develop a plan focused on your needs and goals. They are likely to help you with wound care, pain control and range of motion, and provide recommendations for starting to desensitize your residual limb.

Pre-Prosthetic Training

As your recovery continues, your Occupational Therapist will recommend exercises for general physical conditioning as well as to help you with changes in posture, which can occur when people adjust to sensation of limb loss or the weight of their prosthesis. You will learn how to participate in tasks like feeding and dressing yourself.

Your Occupational Therapist may also recommend activities to help prepare you for being fitted for your prosthesis, such as controlling swelling, managing any scarring, and learning muscle movement and body motions to help you control your prosthesis after you are fitted.

Basic and Advanced Prosthetic Training

After you are fitted with your prosthesis, your Occupational Therapist can help you learn techniques for using your prosthesis for your daily activities. They can also provide guidance so you can efficiently put on and remove your prosthesis, which is known as donning and doffing.

As you continue practicing wearing and using your prosthesis, your Occupational Therapist can also help you expand your activities. Based on your needs and capabilities, you may be able to resume child care, home maintenance, work activities and driving, as well as sports and hobbies that you enjoy.

Choosing a Prosthesis

Your prosthetist will play a key role when it comes to choosing which artificial limb or prosthesis are recommended for you.

Based on your overall health, your mobility goals and mobility potential, your prosthetist will recommend which prostheses might be best for you, so it is important that you discuss your immediate mobility needs, as well as your longer-term goals.

A Range of Prosthetics Options

Prosthetics technology has advanced considerably over the past several decades. Today, a wide variety of prosthetic options are available. Many of these have been pioneered by Ossur, a global leader in prosthetics technology. Ossur’s Touch Solutions include the i-Limb line of myoelectric Bionic prosthetic hands and partial hand solutions, as well as highly realistic passive silicone prostheses that are designed to match your natural appearance.