Upper Extremity Prosthetics

An upper extremity amputation can occur trans-radial (below the elbow) or trans-humeral (above the elbow).

There are two types of prosthetics for upper extremity amputations:

  1. Body powered – uses anatomical movements of the arms and shoulders to open or close the prosthetic hand
  2. Myoelectric – uses electrical signals (stimulus) a nerve sends to a muscle to open or close the hand
body powered prosthetic
Myoelectric prosthetic

Other terms to know in reference to upper extremity prothesis:

  • Socket – what your limb will go into. It is a very important part of your prosthesis as it is what supports weight and aids in suspension. There are many different adjustments that can be made to ensure a comfortable fit inside the prosthesis.
  • Suspension – how the socket stays attached to your limb. This can be done via harnessing straps or using the contours of your arm to hold the socket in place.
  • Terminal device – This is at the end of the prosthesis and is used to interact with your environment. It can be a functional hook or hand terminal device. There are also non-functioning hand can be used for cosmetic purposes.