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We Know: All About Prosthetics

What are prosthetics?

Prosthetics are artificial appliances used to replace or restore human body parts in order to regain the lost functionality of the missing part.

What types of prosthetics are available?

Prosthetics are available for almost every body part and for just about every condition. Amputees benefit greatly from prosthetic limbs, which help them to regain the ability to walk or use their hands. Women who have had a mastectomy can benefit from prosthetic breasts in the form of implants. People with bad hips or knees can have these replaced with prosthetic alternatives and enable them to get up and moving again. Even prosthetic heart valves are available.

How do prosthetics improve your quality of life?

Prosthetics help people regain control over their lives and the ability to do things for themselves. They can walk around without assistance and tie their own shoelaces. People with a prosthesis can maintain a more "normal" appearance and lifestyle. Having prosthetics can also help people avoid the psychological effects of living with a missing limb. Regaining control over your life is the most often cited reason of how a prosthesis can improve the life of an amputee.

What are some of the latest improvements in artificial limbs?

One of the best examples of advances in prosthetics technology is the myoelectric hand, a device fitted with a computer chip that can sense when you give a brain command to grasp something. Even though a person may have lost a hand, he or she can still tie a shoelace using this prosthesis. With the aid of computer technology and digital imaging, prosthetics are fitting better, lasting longer and providing a more natural look and feel to amputees.

How much does an artificial leg cost?

A simple prosthetic leg can cost around $2000, but once the prosthetist's costs and the latest mechanical and computer-aided devices are integrated, costs can range up to $10,000 or $15,000. This does not include the cost of maintenance required on the prosthetic leg.

How do you go about getting a prosthesis?

Getting a prosthetic limb or other body part is a process involving you, your insurance company and a team of specialists.

  1. Referral: Your doctor should give you a referral to a specialist that will help to fit you in your new prosthesis.
  2. Specialist: The prosthetics or orthotics specialist will custom fit you with a prosthesis by utilizing the latest in technology like digital imaging. This helps you get the perfect fit for maximum comfort in your new prosthesis.
  3. Insurance: In recent years, insurance companies are finally beginning to cover or at least substantially cover prosthetics and prosthetic maintenance to ensure you always have a good fitting prosthesis.

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