Every device that is fabricated is custom built for each client’s unique needs. Several steps are involved in creating and learning how to use a prosthesis. Some prostheses are powered and need muscle signals from a user’s body in order to run, while others do not need any power. The steps listed below are typical for clients who receive a powered prosthesis.
A prosthetist and an occupational therapist will work with a client to ensure that he/she will have the best possible control over their prosthetic device. This process includes determining whether there are appropriate muscle sites available and evaluating the ideal type of control strategy, and finally, training a client to use their new prosthetic device to effectively meet their individual goals. Information about myoelectric signals and their use for controlling prosthetic systems is well explained in a series of monographs that have been produced by the Institute of Biomedical Engineering. The links below will allow you to view the Monographs and provide an excellent introduction to the field of powered prosthetics.
The first step in making a prosthesis involves assessing the client’s needs and condition. We can then decide what type of prosthesis will be needed and the various parts that will go into making it.
Next we will check to see which of a client’s existing muscles are best suited to control a prosthesis. These signals can be measured directly on the skin with what are known as electrodes.
A socket must be shaped to allow a prosthesis to fit a client’s body. By taking a custom mold of the residual limb, we can ensure the new prosthesis will fit well once it has been made.
On a later visit, the socket is checked to make sure it fits a client’s body well, and that the electrodes will work well within the socket.
The rest of the prosthesis is then fabricated.
The final prosthesis is then fit and small adjustments are made to fine-tune the device and its control.
Occupational Therapy training then takes place; clients will learn to use their new prosthesis for various functional tasks to meet their individual goals. The goals may be concerned with returning to work, performing school related tasks, independence in getting dressed, playing particular sports, preparing foods, playing on a playground, or socializing with friends. The fitting process is not complete until the client feels comfortable with the use and control of their new prosthesis.