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What are the parts of prosthetic limbs?

Prosthetic limbs have three basic parts. Here is a description of those parts:

  • The internal frame, or skeleton, of a prosthetic limb is called the pylon. It has traditionally been formed of metal rods, as it must provide structural support. Recently, however, the pylons have been formed from lighter carbon-fiber composites. Sometimes the pylons are enclosed by a cover, which typically is made from a foam-like material. This cover can be shaped and colored to match the skin tone of the recipient, to make the prosthetic limb look more lifelike.
  • The socket is the part of the prosthetic device that connects to the patient's residual limb or limb stump. Because it transmits forces from the prosthetic limb to the patient's body, the socket must be meticulously fitted to avoid causing irritation or damage to skin or underlying tissues. Typically, a soft liner is situated within the interior of the socket. A patient also might a layer of one or more prosthetic socks to achieve a snug fit.
  • The suspension system keeps the prosthetic limb attached to the body. This mechanism can come in several forms. For instance, in a harness system -- straps, belts or sleeves are used to attach the prosthetic device. In some types of amputations, however, the prosthetic can stay attached simply by a good fit around the shape of the residual limb. A very common type of suspension mechanism relies on the use of suction. In this scenario, the prosthetic limb fits onto the residual limb and is kept in place by an airtight seal.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.