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Here is a list of common terms and their meanings in relation to amputations and prosthetics



Abduction – Where part of the body or prosthesis is angled away from the midline of the body

Adduction – Where part of the body or prosthesis is angled towards the midline of the body

Alignment – The way the prosthesis is set up, mainly referring to the angle of the socket and foot

AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) – a brace that is prescribed to support or control the ankle

Ankle disarticulation – Usually called a Symes amputation that involves amputation through the ankle joint

Atrophy -The reduction in the size of a muscle, often from disuse



Bilateral – In terms of amputees, a double amputation of both upper or lower limbs



Check socket – A temporary socket used for testing the fit and alignment of a prosthesis before a permanent socket is made

Cosmesis – A cosmetic cover over the mechanical elements of a prosthesis

Congenital limb deficiency – Absence of part or all of a limb at the time of birth



Digital amputation – Amputation of a toe or finger

Dorsiflexion – resultant posture of the foot when the toes are pulling up

Donning – The act of putting a prosthesis or orthosis on

Dynamic foot – A type of prosthetic foot that stores and releases walking energy to more realistically replicate the action of a natural foot to promote walking action



Edema (Oedema) – Swelling or excess fluid in a body part



Femur – Thigh bone

Fibula – Thinner of the two bones that form the shin

Forequarter amputation – an amputation that removes part of shoulder and the arm



Gait analysis – A review of a persons walking pattern, especially when wearing a prosthesis



Hemipelvectomy – Amputation of the leg that also involves the removal of part of the pelvis with the limb, also called a hindquarter amputation

Hip disarticulation – Amputation of the leg through the hip joint



Ischial tuberosity – A thick part of the pelvis in the buttocks, used to take weight in above knee prosthesis. The ischium (commonly called the sitting bone)



Knee disarticulation – Amputation through the knee joint



Liner – A removable sleeve that fits over the stump/residual limb and acts as a cushion and interface with the socket of the prosthesis.  Formed from gel, foam or plastic.



Multiaxial foot – A type of prosthetic foot that imitates ankle movement, so allowing better control and balance on uneven ground



Neuroma – A collection of fibrous tissue around the end of a severed nerve.



Osseointegration – a direct structural and functional connection between living bone and a load-bearing artificial implant -typically made of titanium



Patella – Kneecap

Patella tendon – A thick tendon that can be felt between the kneecap and the top of the shin, it takes weight well so is often used for support in below knee prostheses

Pylon – The pole/strut of the prosthesis that gives it height

Plantarflexion – resultant posture of the foot where the toes point down

Phantom pain - The feeling of pain/discomfort in the absent limb following an amputation

Phantom sensation – Sensory awareness of the part of an amputated limb that is no longer present – a non-painful condition

Pistoning – The movement of the socket relative to the residual limb due to poor fit or lack of suction/friction

Prosthesis – An artificial limb worn following amputation of a body part

Prosthetist – A professional specialising in the design, manufacturer and fitting of artificial limbs

Patella Tendon Bearing (PTB) – a type of below knee prosthesis in which much of the weight is taken on the patella-tendon.  Usually uses a cuff around the thigh to hold it on



Residual limb – another term for the stump formed following part amputation of a limb

Rigid dressing – A hard fibreglass cover for the stump often fitted shortly after an amputation, for protection.  Not worn long-term



Sach Foot – A type of lightweight prosthetic foot that has a fixed ankle

Shoulder disarticulation – Amputation at the shoulder joint

Shrinker – A compression sock specifically for stumps, used to control swelling following amputation surgery

Silicon/gel liner – A type of liner made of a rubbery synthetic material which rolls onto the stump

Silicon suspension (SSS) - A gel liner with distal pin that engages in a lock inside the prosthesis for suspension

Sleeve suspension - A sleeve that is rolled over a below the knee prosthesis and onto the thigh for suspension

Stump volume – a term that describes the size of the stump in relation to the socket of the prosthesis to be used

Socket relief - The space/void created in a prosthetic socket to reduce pressure over sensitive or bony areas of the stump

Stump sock – A liner made specifically for stumps, worn with the prosthesis

Suspension – How the prosthesis is held on

Supracondylar prosthesis (PTS) – Similar to PTB but comes in and over the knee to hold it on

Symes amputation – Amputation of the foot through the ankle joint



Transmetatarsal-phalangeal amputation (TMP) – Amputation of the toes through the ball of the foot

Transmetatarsal amputation (TMT) – Amputation of the toes to just behind the ball of the foot

Transfemoral – An above knee amputation

Transhumeral – An above elbow amputation

Transtibial – A below the knee amputation

Transradial – A below the elbow amputation

Tibia – The larger of the two bones that form the shin



Ulcer – A lesion or opening of the skin

Unilateral – Affecting only one side



Volume loss – A description of the change in stump shape/size that can result in an ill fitting prosthesis

Volume changes – Fluctuation in the size and shape of the stump, related to body fluid levels and caused by changes in the weather, health etc.  Makes a consistent fit of the prosthesis difficult



Wrist disarticulation – Amputation through the wrist joint