GLOSSARY OF UPPER LIMB
As is the case with any
highly complex technology or field of knowledge, there are usually numerous
terms that make up a distinct vocabulary, unique to that specialty. Upper limb
prosthetics is no exception, since it combines knowledge from very diverse fields
of study, including biomechanics, rehabilitation medicine, mechanical engineering,
physiology, electronics, genetics, computer science, orthopedic surgery, etc.
Please use the list below
to find the definitions of any word(s) such as an electronic limb
bank, bionic arm, multi-joint prehensor, etc., that may not be familiar to you.
Above Elbow Prosthesis: A prosthesis which provides an external replacement for the absent elbow
joint, forearm, wrist and hand.
Acquired Limb Loss: The complete or partial absence of an arm or leg due to amputation.
Below Elbow Prosthesis: A prosthesis which provides an external replacement for the absent forearm,
wrist and hand.
Bionic Arm: A prosthesis that uses a combination of electronic circuitry
(e.g. microprocessor) and physiological processes (e.g. EMG. signals) for
Cable Control: The use of a plastic or wire cable to control the operation of artificial
limbs that use a mechanical hand or split hook.
way a natural hand or arm looks physically and aesthetically.
Deficiency: The complete or partial absence of an arm or leg due to a
Definitive Prosthesis: A permanent artificial limb that is built for long term use.
Prosthesis: A prosthesis using special external elbow joints to provide
elbow function and external replacement for the absent forearm, wrist and
Electrode: A small
metallic disk that rests against the skin in order to detect the myoelectric
signal and send it to the myoelectronic circuit.
Electrode Site: The
ideal location for an electrode in order to detect the best myoelectric signal.
Electronic Hand: An electrically-powered prosthetic terminal device using electronic circuits
to control the function of the artificial electric hand.
Electronic Limb Bank: A collection of electronic hands, electrodes, electrodes cables, batteries and
battery chargers, which are used in preparatory prostheses or as temporary
substitutes for components that are being repaired.
Evidence-Based-Prosthetics: The routine use of a prosthetic treatment plan that objectively identifies and
quantifies current clinical data to develop and support the most appropriate
prosthetic prescription specifications to achieve the best outcomes.
Fitting: A special scheduling program that shortens/compresses both the actual
and elapsed time for and between each clinical and technical procedure in the
prosthetic fitting process.
Fitting Frame: A
temporary frame structure which is attached to a permanent prosthetic socket
in order to hold all the electronic components in place during a preliminary
Floating Brim Suspension: A type of suspension for a below elbow prosthesis which provides some natural
rotation at the wrist and allows for maximum elbow freedom and movement.
Growth Liner: A
thin removable plastic lining that increases the interior size of a prosthesis
when removed, in order to accommodate for normal growth and development.
Harness: A series
of straps that attach around the shoulders and upper body in order to control
a cable-driven hand or split hook.
fabrication process which uses reinforced fabrics and liquid plastic resins
to create a laminated prosthetic socket.
Master Model: The
positive plaster model made from the final test socket, which is used to fabricate
the permanent socket of a prosthesis.
Mechanical Prosthesis: An upper limb prosthesis that is non-electronic and is controlled by a
body- powered harness and cable drive system to provide function.
Prosthetic Testing Module: A modular device with interchangeable mechanical
and electronic prosthetic components that allows an occupational therapist to
test a patient's potential upper limb prosthetic function.
Multi-Joint Prehensor: Any terminal device having more than one mechanical joint axis to provide a
Myoelectric Signal: A small electrical emission that is generated by a normal muscle during
contraction. The signal is measured by microvolts (1 millionth of a volt) and
is similar to the EMG signal generated by the heart muscle.
Myoelectronic Circuit: An electronic circuit that is designed to locate, amplify, filter and
rectify the EMG signal from a normal muscle.
Myo-Potentiometer: A machine that measures the EMG signal output of a normal muscle.
Object-Compliant Hands: Artificial hands with multiple joints in all five digits that allow maximum
shape/ grasping adaptability.
Occupational Therapy: Special training that teaches a patient to use an upper limb prosthesis in
order to accomplish the normal activities of daily living.
One Site/One Function
Control: A type of electronic control, which uses an electrode over one
muscle in order to provide one voluntary function within the prosthesis;
sometimes called a "cookie crusher" circuit.
One Site/Two Function
Control: A type of electronic control, which uses an electrode over one
muscle in order to provide two voluntary functions within the prosthesis.
Partial Hand Prosthesis: A prosthesis which provides additional function for the hand.
Passive Prosthesis: A non-electronic prosthesis with a natural looking, passive hand that is
generally fitted to infants at around 4-6 months of age. It is used to accustom
infants to wearing a prosthesis prior to fitting them with a functional
Plaster Cast: A negative/ model formed with a plaster-impregnated bandage, which is molded
around the residual limb to duplicate its size and shape.
Preparatory Prosthesis: A temporary prosthesis worn for approximately 3-12 months to evaluate a
child's functional need for a permanent or definitive prosthesis.
artificial leg, arm, or other body part.
Device: Any device which attaches to the end of an upper limb prosthesis
to provide useful function.
health care specialist trained to design, fabricate and fit artificial limbs.
Protective Outer Glove: A natural looking cosmetic cover that fits over the hand portion of a
prosthesis in order to provide a more normal looking appearance and protection
to the electro/ mechanical components.
Residual Limb: The
part of the arm remaining after the failure of formation of a fully developed
limb at birth or an acquired amputation.
Self-Suspended Socket: A prosthetic socket that is designed to be suspended by the body without
the use of straps or harnessing.
Prosthesis: A prosthesis, which provides an external replacement for the
absent shoulder joint, elbow joint, forearm, wrist and hand.
Socket: The portion
of the prosthesis that fits over the residual limb.
Stump: What is left
in the ground after someone cuts down a tree; not a part of the human body.
Suspension Sleeve: A rubber or elastic sleeve that is worn over the elbow of a below elbow
prosthesis, to help hold the prosthesis onto the residual limb.
Transparent Test Socket: An interim disposable socket that is made of "see through"plastic, which
allows the prosthetist to analyze the fit, function and comfort of the
prosthetic socket design prior to making the permanent socket.
Traumatic Amputation: Lower or upper extremity amputations caused by injury or accident.
Two Site/Two Function
Control: A type of electronic control, which utilizes two electrodes and two
separate muscles in order to provide two individual voluntary functions.
Amputations: The complete or partial removal of fingers, hands or arms
due to trauma or disease.
Upper Limb Prosthetics: A highly specialized branch of practice within the field of prosthetics,
that provides upper limb prosthetic care to the one out of thirty amputees who
wear artificial limbs to accommodate an acquired upper limb loss or congenital
Prosthesis: A prosthesis which provides an external replacement for the
absent wrist and hand.
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