Prosthetics is the design, fabrication and fitting of custom-made artificial limbs for patients who have lost limbs as a result of congenital disorders, diabetes, vascular diseases, traumatic injuries, or cancer. These devices will restore, function and appearance of a full or partial missing limb. Because of vast differences in the human anatomy, the fabrication of a prosthetic device is necessarily an intricate, custom procedure requiring a high degree of skill and sophisticated technology. The preliminary or temporary prosthesis is followed by a definitive prosthesis as soon as the residual limb is stable.
The design of the prosthesis is determined by the patient's physical changes, activity level, and functional needs. Amputees generally require a new device every few years for the remainder of their lives. Children, due to rapid growth rates and high activity levels, along with extremely active adults need new prostheses on a more frequent basis. Prosthetic adjustments, repairs, realignment, and component upgrading are also aspects of ongoing treatment. Depending upon their complexity, prostheses represent a substantial investment of the health care dollar. Yet, studies have shown that, thanks to advanced designs and modern materials, those who require prostheses are most likely fully and successfully rehabilitated of all segments of the physically challenged population. Because of the improved function it allows, an appropriate prosthesis is an expenditure that more than pays for itself.