Upper Extremity Prosthetics

Upper Extremity Prosthetics Types & Features


A passive upper extremity prosthetic can be used for all levels of amputation. However, it is used primarily to visually replace the body part that is missing. This promotes a healthy body image and is also functional in that it can assist the sound side arm with activities, such as holding or placing objects down.

Mechanical (Body Powered)

A mechanical upper extremity prosthetic uses body movements to operate the terminal device (hand or hook). The prosthesis is connected to the body with cables and a harness. Using movements of the shoulders and the arms, the person can open and close the terminal device

Myoelectric (Externally powered)

A myoelectric upper extremity prosthetic uses signals from muscles of the residual limb to control the opening and closing of the terminal device (hook or hand) or elbow depending on the level of amputation. Electrodes are incorporated into the prosthetic socket, and, by contracting the muscles of the residual limb, electrical signals are sent to the motors, which open and close the terminal device (hook or hand) or lift and lower the forearm at the elbow.


The socket is the part of the upper extremity prosthesic which is in contact with the residual limb. It allows various components to be mounted to the prosthesis, including the harness, elbows, wrists, terminal devices, etc.


A harness holds the device to the body so the prosthesis can be used properly. When using a body-powered upper extremity prosthetic, the harness is used to open or close the terminal device. Depending on the level of amputation, it may additionally be used to lock and unlock an elbow. The harness can be worn over an undershirt to help minimize the friction between the harness and the skin. This will also help keep the harness clean.


This part of the prosthesis allows the extension and flexion of the forearm. Body-powered elbows are flexed using a cable connected to the harness or by lifting and locking them with the sound limb. Electronic elbows are also available for use with myoelectric prosthetics, and latest technology to function.


There are many types of wrist units that offer the user the ability to rotate their terminal device to any position along with being able to do a quick disconnect of the terminal device to easily change between a hook or a hand or any other type of terminal device. Furthermore, there are units that allow for flexion and extension of the terminal device at the wrist.

Terminal Devices

There are three main types of terminal devices for the upper limb prosthesis: hands, hooks, and specialized terminal devices.


Hands can be either passive (non-functional) or functional. Functional hands can be either body-powered or myoelectric.


Specialized terminal devices are customized for a specific sport, hobby, or profession. For example, you could have a baseball mitt attached to the wrist.

Specialized Terminal Devices

Specialized terminal devices are customized for a sport, hobby, or profession. You could have a baseball mitt attached to the wrist

We help you select the right prosthetics.

Patient’s Limb: When your physician has given clearance to begin the upper extremity prosthetic fitting process, your prosthetist will take a plaster cast of the limb, which will provide him or her with a model to make the prosthesis. Prior to this appointment, your prosthetist will have assessed your individual needs and goals for life as an amputee. This information is extremely important when determining which type of prosthetic device will be the most suitable for your individual needs. These factors include the length and condition of your residual limb, range of motion and strength, your activity level, occupation or leisure activities, and current health status.

Occupation: One’s occupation is also considered when developing an upper extremity prosthetic device. Whether it is a light-duty or heavy-duty type of employment, our practitioners fit each patient specifically to suit their needs.

Leisure Activities: Our goal at Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics is to restore the mobility and quality of life for each patient and help them return to an active lifestyle, which includes partaking in previous hobbies, sports, and recreational activities. Today, prosthetic components offer amputees a variety of options that may help make participation in recreational activities possible. Be sure to express your goals to your prosthetist so that the most appropriate components can be selected for your prosthesis.

Passive Upper Extremity Prosthetic

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Take the first step in your journey towards returning to your new normal. We are here to help you every step of the way. Schedule a consultation with a specialist at your nearest CPO clinic.

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