Terminology

Above-elbow (AK) amputation:  An amputation above or through the elbow joint.

Above-knee (AK) amputation:  An amputation above or through the knee joint.

Acquired amputation:  The surgical removal of a limb due to trauma, infection, or disease.

Activities of  daily living (ADLs):  Everyday routines generally involving functional mobility and personal care, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and meal preparation.

Alignment:   The position of the socket relative to the other components of the prosthetic limb.

Ambulate:  To move from place to place; to walk.

Amputation:  The removal of an injured or diseased extremity or limb or part of a limb.

Atrophy:  The reduction in size of a muscle, usually from disuse.

Below-elbow (BE) amputation:  An amputation below the elbow but through or above the wrist joint.  Also called forearm amputation.

Below-knee (BK) amputation:  An amputation below the knee but through or above the ankle joint.

Bilateral amputation:  The amputation of both lower limbs or both upper limbs.

Body-powered prosthesis:  A type of prosthesis that uses body motion and strength, usually via a cable control system, to operate the prosthesis.

Check socket:  see test socket

Chopart amputation:  A foot amputation through the midtarsal joint; between the tarsal navicular and the calcaneocuboid joints.

Congenital amputation:  The absence of a fetal limb or fetal part at birth.

Contracture:  A shortening and hardening of muscles, tendons, or other non-bony tissue, which causes rigidity.

Contralateral:  Occurring on, affecting, or acting in conjunction with a part on the opposite side of the body.

Cosmesis:  A cosmetic cover or sleeve that is designed to look like a natural limb and is worn over a prosthesis.

Definitive prosthesis:  A permanent prosthetic device that replaces an  immediate-fit appliance such as a pylon.  In some cases, a definitive prosthesis is used only when full weight bearing on an artificial limb is feasible.

Disarticulation:  Amputation through a joint.  No bone is cut.

Distal:  Located away from the center of the body.

Doff:  To take off a prosthesis.

Don:  To put on a prosthesis.

Dorsiflexion:  The turning of the foot or the toes upward.

Dynamic-response foot:  A high-impact prosthetic foot that stores and releases energy during walking and running.

Dysvascular amputation:  Amputation resulting from peripheral vascular disease.

Edema:  Swelling from fluid buildup in the tissue surrounding the amputation.  

Elbow disarticulation amputation:  An arm amputation occurring at the elbow joint.

Elevated vacuum:  see vacuum suspension  

Endoskeletal prosthesis:  A prosthesis that features an inner support pylon composed of lighter-weight materials like aluminum, titanium, and graphite.  These designs have interchangeable connectors and other components, such as knees and feet.  The shape or cosmesis is derived from a removable soft, foam cover that is finished with a nylon hose or other flexible material.

Exoskeletal prosthesis:  A prosthesis with a hard plastic-laminated shell or skin over a wood or urethane foam interior.  The strength of the prosthesis is provided by the outer lamination, and the shape or cosmesis is an integral part of the prosthesis.

Femoral:  Pertaining to the femur or the thigh.

Foreshortened prosthesis:  see stubbies

Functional level:  Activity level.

Gait:  The manner or style of walking.

Gait cycle:  A sequence of lower-limb events occurring during normal walking on a flat, level surface.  The gait cycle starts when one foot makes contact with the ground and ends when that same foot contacts the ground again.

Hemipelvectomy:  Amputation of an entire leg together with one lateral half of the pelvis on the same side.

Hip-disarticulation:  A leg amputation occurring at the hip joint.  

Immediate postoperative prosthesis (IPOP):  A prosthetic device that is fit immediately after or within the first several days of amputation surgery to help control swelling of and facilitate early weight bearing on the residual limb.  Usually consists of a rigid or semi-rigid dressing, a pylon, and a prosthetic foot.

Interface:  The inner surface of the prosthesis that makes contact with the body.  Certain interface designs are referred to as sockets.

Ipsilateral:  Situated or appearing on or affecting the same side of the body.

Ischemia:  An insufficient supply of blood to an organ, usually due to a blocked artery.

Ischial containment socket:  A type of prosthetic socket used to contain the ischium, or lower portion of the hip bone.  Generally used with hip-disarticulation and hemipelvectomy prostheses.

Knee-disarticulation amputation:  A leg amputation occurring at the knee joint.  Also referred to as a through-knee amputation.

Lateral:  Pertaining to the side.  Denoting a position farther away from the midline of the body.

L-Code:  an alphanumeric reimbursement code.  The “L” identifies that the code is for an orthotic or prosthetic device, and the number defines the body part and specific type of device.

Liner:  A type of sock or sleeve worn over the residual limb to help suspend the limb inside the prosthetic socket and protect the skin on the residual limb.

Mechanical knee:  A type of prosthetic knee joint that uses a spring to control movement.  The spring is compressed when the knee is bent backward.  When the spring relaxes, it supports the forward movement of the lower leg.  The control of the speed of bending and extension is provided by friction and the buffer stop.

Medial:  Closer to the midline of the body.

Microprocessor-controlled knee (MPK):  An electronically controlled prosthetic knee joint in which sensors continuously determine the phase of the step taken by the user so that the leg is optimally adjusted over the course of the movement.

Multi-axis foot:  A moderate-impact foot that moves up and down and side to side.  

Myoelectric:  A type of externally powered prosthesis that uses muscle signals and electrodes to control the movements of the prosthesis.

Neuropathy:  see peripheral neuropathy

Orthotist:  An allied healthcare professional who designs, fabricates, and fits braces or other orthopedic appliances prescribed by physicians.

Osseointegration:  the firm anchoring of a surgical implant (as in dentistry or in bone surgery) by the growth of bone around it without fibrous tissue formation at the interface.

Partial foot amputation:  Amputation of the forefoot.

Partial hand amputation:  amputation of the thumb or one or more of the fingers.

Passive prosthesis:  An upper-limb prosthesis that usually has components that can be moved or positioned with the other hand but does not have active motion itself.

Peripheral neuropathy:  Most commonly caused by diabetes, peripheral neuropathy is the result of nerve damage and often causes weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in the hands and feet.  People generally describe the pain of peripheral neuropathy as tingling or burning, but it can also feel similar to wearing a thin stocking or glove.

Phantom-limb pain:  an unpleasant sensory experience in which a new amputee feels burning or shooting pain in part of the limb that was amputated.  May also feel like an achy squeezing sensation.

Phantom-limb sensation:  A phenomenon in which an amputee feels sensations coming from his or her limb even though it was amputated.  Sensations may include numbness, itching, tingling, temperature changes, muscle cramps, or pressure in the missing limb.  Individuals may even feel that the limb moves whether it is volitional or uncontrollable.  see also telescoping

Pin suspension:  A method of attaching the prosthesis to the residual limb that consists of a gel liner with a pin sticking out of the bottom that attaches to a locking mechanism inside the bottom end of the socket.  Once locked, the prosthesis remains secure until the user depresses a button to release the pin.

Pirogoff’s amputation:  Amputation of the foot through the articulation of the ankle with retention of part of the large bone of the heel.

Pistoning:  A situation in which the residual limb moves excessively inside the socket.

Plantar:  Pertaining to the sole of the foot.

Plantarflexion:  Movement at the ankle joint that points the foot downward away from the leg, or movement of the toes that curls them down toward the sole of the foot.

Postoperative prosthesis:  see immediate postoperative prosthesis

Preparatory prosthesis:  A temporary artificial limb that is fitted to the residual limb soon after amputation to permit ambulation and biomechanical adaptation.

Prosthesis:  An artificial substitute for a missing body part, such as an arm or a leg, used for functional or cosmetic reasons or both.

Prosthetic: see prosthesis

Prosthetist:  An allied health-care professional who measures, designs, fabricates, fits, or services a prosthesis as prescribed by a licensed physician, and who assists in the formulation of the prosthesis prescription for the replacement of external parts of the human body lost due to amputation or congenital deformities or absences.

Proximal:  Nearer to a point of reference or attachment, usually the center of the body, than other parts of the body.

Proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD):   A rare congenital anomaly in which the hip is deformed and the leg is shortened.

Pylon:  The portion of the prosthesis that connects the socket to a terminal device.

Quadrilateral amputation:  The amputation of all four limbs.

Range of motion:  The extent to which a joint can move (partial or full).  Usually measured in degrees.

Residual limb:  The portion of the limb remaining after amputation.

Residual limb pain:  Pain that persists or develops in the part of the limb that was not amputated.  Usually occurs at the very end of the amputation site.  Also called stump pain.

Rigid dressing:  A plaster or fiberglass wrap or cast over the residual limb, usually applied in the operating or recovery room immediately following amputation surgery to control swelling and pain.

SACH foot:  A prosthetic foot with a solid ankle and cushioned heel that provides a natural appearance but little or no movement during walking.

Semi-rigid dressing:  A type of postoperative amputation dressing in which the residual limb is either wrapped with Unna’s paste or an air splint (a plastic, pneumatic bag with a rigid aluminum frame).

Shaft:  see pylon

Sheath:  A friction-reducing interface between the residual limb skin and the prosthetic sock.

Shoulder disarticulation:  An amputation at shoulder level with the shoulder blade remaining.

Shrinker:  A type of sock, usually made from an elastic material, worn on the residual limb to help control swelling by providing compression.

Single-axis foot:  A type of prosthetic foot that has a single hinge so that it can move up and down.

Socket:  A shell that fits over the residual limb and joins the residual limb to the prosthesis.

Soft dressing:  An amputation dressing applied immediately after surgery made of gauze pads and gauze bandages.

Stockinette:  Closely woven cotton material used as an undercoat for a plaster cast and as a means of keeping dressings in place on a limb.

Stubbies:  A  type of prosthesis used by bilateral above-knee amputees in which prosthetic sockets are mounted directly over rocker-bottom platforms that serve as feet.

Stump:  see residual limb

Suction socket:  A prosthetic socket that is held to the residual limb by the suction of negative pressure maintained within the socket.

Suspension system:  The method of holding a prosthesis onto the residual limb.

Syme’s amputation:  Amputation of the foot through the articulation of the ankle with removal of the malleoli of the tibia and fibula.

Targeteted muscle reinnervation (TMR):  A surgical procedure in which nerves that once controlled an amputated hand or arm are reassigned to the pectoral muscles to allow individuals with upper-limb loss to control a prosthetic device by thinking about the action they want to perform.

Telescoping:  A phantom-limb sensation in which an amputee feels as if his or her missing limb is getting shorter or moving closer to the body, with the overall size of the limb shrinking.  More common in upper-limb amputees than lower-limb amputees. see also phantom-limb sensation

Terminal device:  The component at the end of an upper-limb prosthesis designed to provide some of the function an amputated hand used to provide.

Test socket:  A temporary socket, often transparent, made over the plaster model to aid in obtaining a proper fit.

Through-knee:  see knee disarticulation

Transfemoral:  see above-knee (AK)

Transhumeral:  see above-elbow (AE)

Transmetacarpal amputation:  see partial hand amputation

Transmetatarsal amputation (TMA):  see partial foot amputation

Transradial amputation:  see below elbow (BE)

Transtibial amputation:  see below-knee (BK)

Traumatic amputation:  An amputation that occurs as the result of an injury or accident.

Unilateral amputation:  The amputation of a single upper limb and/or a single lower limb.