The type of prosthesis you will wear is based largely upon the length of your residual limb.


Different Types of Amputations

There are several different types of upper extremity amputations that can occur including:

  • Fingers or partial hand (transphalangeal or transcarpal)
  • Wrist disarticulation (through the wrist joint)
  • Below-elbow (transradial)
  • Elbow disarticulation (through the elbow joint)
  • Above-elbow (transhumeral)
  • Bilateral (both sides of the body are affected)
  • Shoulder disarticulation (through the shoulder joint)
  • Interscapular Thoracic (removal of entire shoulder girdle)

To Wear a Prosthesis
or Not to Wear a Prosthesis

Although we would encourage most upper extremity amputees to at least try wearing a prosthesis, some people adapt to their limb difference over time and prefer not to wear one. Our goal is to be sure that you understand all the options available in order to make a thoroughly informed choice for yourself. Even if you have opted not to use a prosthesis in the past, it is always possible to make an appointment with a Purple Prosthetics Upper Extremity Specialist and reconsider your options. That said, it is also important to note that in general, the longer a person goes without using an upper extremity prosthesis, the more difficult it can be to learn.


Information is power and the Hanger Clinic National Upper Extremity Prosthetics Program (UEPP) wants to give each person the information they need to understand their prosthetic options.

Know Your Options

One option is choosing not to wear a prosthesis. For some people, this is the best choice and the one with which they are most comfortable. There may be limited functional advantage to using a prosthesis and they may prefer to adapt to their limb deficiency. Other reasons may be a negative experience with their first prosthesis or the prospect of revision surgery, which is sometimes necessary for a successful prosthetic fit.

Passive Prosthesis

The passive prosthesis, which is a cosmetic restoration, is another option for upper extremity patients. It is an excellent choice for users who do not require precise hand control or grasp, but still seek a cosmetically pleasing prosthesis.

Conventional or Body-Powered Prosthesis

The conventional or body-powered prosthesis is a choice many upper extremity users make. This prosthesis is suspended from a harness fastened around the person’s shoulder or upper torso. It is controlled by upper body movements that utilize a cable connected to the harness at one end, and to a mechanical hand, hook or elbow at the other end. Many people feel this type of prosthesis grants them a wide range of basic function and control.

Electrically Powered Prosthesis

Another option is the electrically powered prosthesis that utilizes motors to open and close the hand, and can also flex and extend the elbow or rotate the wrist. This option offers many control choices.

Myoelectric Prosthesis

One of the most popular is myoelectric control. The user controls the prosthesis by contracting the muscles in the residual limb, generating EMG signals that activate the motor in the elbow, wrist or hand. Some people find that the myoelectric prosthesis allows a greater range of motion, a more natural appearance, and enhanced work ability. It is also more comfortable since the harness is either smaller or is eliminated completely.

Hybrid Prosthesis

Combining elements of the conventional and the electrically powered prosthesis create another option – the hybrid. A hybrid prosthesis provides the user with the unique ability to operate the elbow and the hand at the same time. This feature can dramatically increase the rehabilitation potential of some individuals.

Finally, the adaptive or activity-specific prosthesis is meant for the individual whose specialized requirements cannot be met by the other options. Various terminal devices can be utilized depending on the specialized activity. For example, custom adaptations can be fabricated for photography, swimming, basketball, baseball, golf, fishing, pool and most other recreational activities.

Interested in learning more? Call 08065541404 or visit this page to request more information.