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.

Continue Learning about Physical Disabilities

Early Intervention to Stop Stuttering
Early Intervention to Stop Stuttering
What do Winston Churchill and James Earl Jones have in common besides a deep voice and a robust stature? They were both stutterers. Stuttering that l...
Read More
What if I blunder when I communicate with people with disabilities?
Challenge AmericaChallenge America
Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted, common expressions such as "See you later" or "D...
More Answers
What training is needed to become a speech pathologist?
Dr. Daniel R. Spogen, MDDr. Daniel R. Spogen, MD
To become a speech pathologist, the following training is needed: bachelor's degree master’s deg...
More Answers
How do I get a handicapped parking permit or placard?
Betty Long, RN, MHABetty Long, RN, MHA
Search online using your state name and “handicapped parking placard” for your state's requirements....
More Answers

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.