Amputee and Prosthetic Terminology

Being familiar with some of the commonly used terms in the discussion and literature on amputation is quite helpful. This is a basic list of terms for your information, and we are happy to provide you with further clarification about these or other terms if you require it.

AK – Above the knee – Trans Femoral

Alignment – Position of a prosthetic socket in relation to foot and knee

Amputation – Removal of all or part of a limb due to infection, injury, tumor, disease or trauma

Amputee – A person who has had all or part of a limb removed/amputated or is born without a limb

Amputation (Traumatic) – A spontaneous removal of a limb for example as a result of an accident

Bilateral – Bi means both, meaning both sides

BE – Below elbow – Trans Radial

BK – Below the knee – Trans Tibia

Carbon Fiber – Non-stretch carbon fabric used to reinforce lightweight composite resin structures, such as prosthetic components and socket

Claudication – Pain in the limb upon exertion – due to circulatory insufficiency

Congenital limb deficiency – When all or parts of limb/s do not develop normally in the womb or are missing

CPO – Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist (also known as CO – CP – CPOT)

Disarticulation – Limb is amputated through the joint

Doffing – Taking the prosthesis off

Donning – Putting the prosthesis on

ECG – Electro-Cardiograph, recording of the electrical activity of the heart

Edema – Swelling of the tissues (also spelled oedema)

Endo – Inside (as in: Endoskeletal Prosthesis – one with internal supporting structures)

Exo – Outside (as in: Exoskeletal Prosthesis – one with external rigid fiberglass structure)

Gait training – Learning to walk with a prosthesis

Interface – Inner surface of socket, or portion of prosthesis closest to the skin

Liner – Soft socket rolled or pulled over the residual limb and used for protection, comfort and in some cases as a suspension device

Lower extremity – Lower limb

Occupational therapy – Training to maximize independence in daily life

PPAM – Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility Aid is an inflatable device (not a prosthesis) that is used by some physiotherapists as part of the rehabilitation programme prior to prosthetic rehabilitation

Patella – Kneecap

Peripheral vascular disease – Disease of the blood vessels from a variety of causes

Phantom pain – Painful feeling in the part of the extremity that has been amputated

Phantom sensation – Awareness of the amputated limb although not described as pain

Phantom limb – Sensation of the presence of the limb that has been amputated

Physical therapy – Therapeutic exercises in order to treat a disease or a disability

Pistoning – When a liner stretches so that the stump elongates – or the vertical motion of a residual limb inside a prosthetic socket

Prosthesis – A fabricated/artificial substitute for a body part that is missing

Prostheses – More than one prosthesis (plural form)

Prosthetist (Canadian Certified) – Someone who designs, fits and makes artificial limbs and who’s education and training and expertise is recognized and credentialed by the Canadian Board for Certification of Prosthetists and Orthotists

Residual limb – The remaining part of the limb after amputation (the stump)

Socket – The part of the prosthesis (artificial limb) that fits around the residual limb – and fits around the Liner or socket insert if one is used

Socket insert – A soft form that is contoured to fit around the residual limb and fits inside the Socket to provide for some increased padding and comfort for the residual limb

Suction socket – A socket on an artificial leg that excludes the entry of air and is held to the residual limb by the suction of negative pressure maintained within the socket

Total contact – Total contact between the residual limb and socket at all points

Transradial – Amputation below the elbow (Through the radius and ulna bones)

Transfemoral (TF) – Amputation above the knee (Through the femur bone)

Transmetasatal (TM) – Amputation through the metatarsal foot bones (Partial foot amputation)

Transtibial (TT) – Amputation below the knee (Through the tibia and fibula bones)

Transhumeral – Amputation above the elbow (Through the humerus bone)

Upper extremity – Upper limb

Vascular amputation – Amputation surgery performed as a result of impaired circulation of blood through the blood vessels of the limb.