A prosthesis is an artificial device used to replace a missing body part lost due to disease, trauma or congenital conditions. The two main categories of prosthetics are craniofacial and somato (body prosthetics). Prostheses are specifically tailored to meet the individual patient’s appearance and functional needs.
The earliest recorded prosthetics throughout history belonged to the ancient Egyptians.¹ They have evolved extensively since then, with new plastics and other materials allowing artificial limbs to be stronger, lighter and look more realistic. The use of electronics has also become common in artificial limbs. Most prosthetics are attached to the stump of the person by belts and cuffs or by suction.
Orthotics is a specialty within the medical field which concentrates on the design and application of orthoses, which correct disorders of limbs or spine by use of braces and other devices to correct alignment or provide support. Patients who use an orthosis may have a condition such as spina bifida or have experienced spinal cord injury or stroke, although they are also sometimes used prophylactically or to improve sport performance. Some orthoses can be purchased over the counter at local retailers, others require a prescription from a physician.
1. Lorenzi, R. (2012). Ancient Egyptian Fake Toes Earliest Prosthetics. Discovery News. Retrieved from: http://news.discovery.com/history/ancient-egypt/ancient-egypt-wooden-toes-prosthetics-121002.htm
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