Abduction – Moving a limb away from the midline of the body

Adduction – Moving a limb toward the midline of the body

Alignment – The position of the prosthetic socket in relation to the knee and foot

Amputation – The surgical removal of all or part of a limb

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

AE Amputee – Above Elbow also known as a Transhumeral amputee

BE Amputee – Below Elbow also known as a Transradial amputee

AK Amputee – Above Knee also known as a Transfemoral amputee

BK Amputee – Below Knee also known as a Transtibial amputee

Ankle disarticulation – Amputation through the ankle joint

Anterior – Toward the front of the body

Atrophy – The reduction in size of an organ or tissue


Bilateral – Affecting both sides. For example bilateral amputations means both legs are amputated.

Biomechanics – Science combining biology and mechanics, study of body movement and forces

Bulbous Stump – Shape where the distal size of the stump is larger than the proximal size


Cadence – Walking speed

Callous – Thickening of the skin

Cast – A plaster impression of a residual limb from which a socket will be made

Check socket – A diagnostic socket used to test the fit and alignment of a prosthesis before a permanent socket is made

Chopart – A partial foot amputation leaving only the calcaneus and talus bones intact

Congenital limb deficiency – Absence or under development of a limb or part of a limb at the time of birth

Contracture – The loss of joint motion

Cosmesis – The appearance of a prosthesis

Cosmetic cover – The external cover that gives a prosthesis a normal anatomical appearance


Definitive prosthesis – A permanent prosthesis that will be worn on an ongoing basis

Disarticulation – The amputation of a limb through a joint

Distal – Located at a distance away from the center of the body

Doffing – Taking off the prosthesis

Donning – Putting on the prosthesis

Dorsiflexion – The action of the ankle to pull up the toes

Drop foot – An inability to raise the foot

Dynamic alignment – Adjusting the prosthesis to suit the movement patterns of the patient

Dynamic foot – A type of prosthetic foot which stores and releases energy when walking


Endo – Inside

Exo – Outside

Extension – To straighten a joint


Fixation – Refers to how the prosthesis is held on

Flaccid – Lacking firmness, resilience, or muscle tone.

Flexion – To bend a joint

Flexion contracture – The loss of joint motion, full extension is not possible

Fusion – the merging or coherence of adjacent parts of the bodies.


Gait analysis – Referring to the manner or style of walking and its assessment


Haematoma – A localized mass of extravasated blood.

Hemiplegic – Paralysis effecting one side of the body

Hemipelvectomy – Amputation that removes half of the pelvis with the limb

Hip disarticulation – Amputation of the entire lower limb at hip joint level

Hyperextension – Extension at an angle that is greater than normal


Idiopathic – A medical term used to describe the unknown cause of a medical condition

Inferior – Below

Interface – Typically between inner surface of the prosthetic socket and the residual limb

Inflammation – Redness, heat or swelling


KB – Knee bearing. A prosthesis where the patient bears weight through their knee

KD – (Knee disarticulation) An amputation through the knee joint


Lateral – Away from the midline of the body

Lesion – A break in the skin

Ligament – Connective tissue between bones

Liner – A removable protective cover which fits between the stump and the socket

Lower extremity – Referring to the leg


Manipulation – Actions performed by hands

Manual locking knee – A prosthetic knee component that can be locked in extension

Medial – Toward the midline of the body

Multiaxial foot – A type of prosthetic foot, which imitates ankle movement in more than one plane, to accommodate uneven surfaces

Myodesis procedure – A technique used when amputating in which the muscles are cut and secured to the bone.

Myoelectric – A method of controlling prosthetic limbs that uses electrical signals from the body

Myoplasty – A technique used when amputating to join opposite muscle groups to each other


Nerve – Structure of the body capable of transmitting impulses

Neuroma – An overgrowth of nerve tissue


Occupational therapy – Treatment to assist with the performance of work tasks and daily living

Oedema – Swelling of the tissues


Paralysis – The inability to use muscles due to nerve damage

Partial foot – Amputation through any part of the foot leaving the ankle intact

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) – Disease of the small blood vessels near the surface of the skin, typically affecting lower limbs

Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD) – A congenital defect in which the proximal part of the femur bone is shortened

Phantom pain – A sensation of pain in the part of the amputated limb that is no longer there

Phantom sensation – A sensation of the amputated limb

Physiotherapy – Physical exercise to restore function

Pistoning – When the residual limb moves slightly up and down in the socket

Plantarflexion – To position the foot with the toes pointing down

Posterior – Towards the back of the body

Proprioception – A sense or perception of the position or movement of the limb, independent of vision.

Prosthesis – A device which replaces a missing body part

Prosthetist – A professional specializing in the manufacture and fitting of prosthetic limbs


Quadrilateral – Limb loss involving four limbs

Quadriplegia – Partial or full paralysis of both arms and legs


Residual Limb – Description of the remaining limb from joint to amputation site

Rigid Dressing – A cast or devise applied after amputation, which controls swelling and pain

ROM – Range of mobility in a joint


Scoliosis – Lateral curvature of the spine

Socket – The part of the prosthesis that encapsulates the residual limb

Spasm – An involuntary muscular contraction

Static Alignment – Alignment of the prosthesis while the patient is standing still

Stump/residual limb – The portion of limb remaining after an amputation

Stump Shrinker – A compression sock worn on a stump to reduce the swelling and shape the limb. It is commonly worn during the first post-operative months.

Stump Sock – Wool, cotton or blended materials used as a sock worn over a residual limb to compensate stump shrinkage

Suction Socket – A prosthetic socket that is held on by means of negative pressure. This is achieved by forcing air out of the socket through a valve when donning and using the prosthesis

Suspension Sleeve – An elastic tubular sleeve that is pulled over the upper part of the prosthesis then rolled up the limb once the prosthesis has been donned

Switch Control – Typically manual use of electric switches to operate an electric elbow, wrist rotator or hand

Symes – Amputation at the level of the ankle. The bulbous end of the limb is often able to bear weight.


Temporary Prosthesis – (Interim prosthesis) A prosthesis fitted shortly after amputation so that gait training can begin

Tendon – Tissue that connects muscle to bone

Test Socket – A diagnostic socket, usually transparent, which is used to evaluate the socket fit prior to the fabrication of the final socket

TK – Through the knee

Torso – The chest and abdominal area

Traction – Using external force to pull a body part

Transfemoral (TF) – An amputation through the femur

Transhumeral (TH) – An amputation through the humerus

Transmetasatal (TM) – An amputation through the metatarsal bones

Transpelvic (TP) – An amputation of the entire lower limb plus a portion of the pelvic bone

Transradial (TR) – An amputation through the radius and ulna

Transtibial (TT) – An amputation through the tibia and fibula

Trilateral – Limb loss involving three limbs

Traumatic Amputation – The removal of a limb resulting from accident or injury

Tremor – An involuntary shaking


Ulcer – Lesion or opening of the skin

Unilateral – On one side of the body only


Valgus – Bent or angled inwards towards the midline of the body

Varus – Bent or angled outward away from the midline of the body

Vascular – Relating to the blood vessels

Vascular Amputation – An amputation due to impaired blood circulation


WD – Wrist disarticulation