Prosthetics after amputation

After an amputation, you may be able to have a prosthetic limb fitted. A prosthesis is an artificial body part.

Who can have a prosthetic limb

Prosthetic limbs aren’t suitable for everyone who’s had an amputation. For example, frail people or people with a serious health condition may not be suitable. This is because an amputation requires lots of:

  • physiotherapy
  • rehabilitation
  • energy to adjust to life with a prosthetic limb

Types of prosthetic limb

If you’re able to have a prosthetic limb, the type of limb that’s recommended for you will depend on:

  • the type of amputation you had
  • the amount of muscle strength in the remaining section of the limb
  • your general state of health
  • tasks the prosthetic limb will be expected to perform
  • whether you want the limb to look as real as possible or whether you’re more concerned with function

A cosmetic limb is one that looks like a real limb but can’t be used. You may be given this if you’d find it difficult to withstand the strain of using a prosthetic limb.

It’s possible to have a prosthetic limb that’s both physically realistic and functional. But, there may have to be an element of compromise between the two.

Preparing to have a prosthetic limb fitted

If a prosthetic limb is suitable for you, you’ll start to be prepared for it in hospital. But, it can be several months before you get your first appointment with a prosthetist. This is a specialist in prosthetic limbs.

Skin desensitisation

Desensitisation helps to make the skin covering your stump less sensitive. This makes the prosthetic more comfortable to wear.

Desensitisation happens before you get your prosthetic. It can involve:

  • gently tapping the skin with a face cloth
  • using compression bandages – to reduce swelling and prevent a build up of fluid
  • rubbing and pulling the skin around your bone – to prevent excessive scarring

Physiotherapy

Before you have a prosthetic limb fitted, your physiotherapist will teach you exercises. These help to:

  • strengthen the muscles in your remaining limb
  • improve your general energy levels

Physiotherapy will help you cope better with the demands of an artificial limb.

Further help and support

You may find it useful to contact a support group for people living with amputations. You can get information and advice from:

Further information on recovering from an amputation

Last updated:
13 April 2023