Kootenai Prosthetics & Orthotics
Peg Wasserman, Coeur d'Alene, ID
Dian Hansen, Rathdrum, ID
Denzel Tucker, Moyie Springs, ID

Useful Terms for Prosthetic & Orthotic Patients



Abduction – the motion of a limb or body part away from the central line of the body.
Adduction – the motion of a limb or body part toward the central line of the body.
Adherent scar tissue – tissue that sticks to underlying tissue such as muscle, fascia or bone. May cause pain, lessen full range of motion or limit proper socket fit.
AE (above-the-elbow) – level of amputation. Also known as transhumeral.
AK (above-the-knee) – level of amputation. Also known as transfemoral.
AFO – ankle-foot orthosis, encompasses the lower leg and foot.
Alignment – position of prosthetic socket in relation to foot and knee.
Alignment, dynamic – position of socket and foot during walking.
Alignment, static – initial position of socket to prosthetic foot.
Amputation – the removal or absence of all or part of a limb.
Amputation, acquired – limbs surgically removed due to disease or trauma.
Amputation, diabetic – an amputation caused by complications associated with diabetes.
Anterior – before, in front, or toward the front.
AP - anterior-posterior, the measurement in below-knee prosthetics from the patellar notch to the popliteal bulge
Assistive/adaptive equipment – ramps, bars, changes in furniture heights, environmental control units, and specially designed devices that assist in performance or mobility.


BE (below-the-elbow) – level of amputation. Also known as transradial.
Bilateral amputee – a person who is missing both arms or both legs.
BK (below-the-knee) – level of amputation. Also known as transtibial.
Board eligible practitioner – a person who has completed education requirements in orthotics and/or prosthetics but has not yet passed their certification exam.
Body-powered prosthesis (upper extremity) – an arm prosthesis powered by movement in the upper extremity portion of the body, specifically the muscles of the shoulder, neck and back.


Check or test socket - a temporary socket that is made over the plaster model to assist in fitting the prosthesis.
Congenital deficiency – condition present at birth when all or part of a limb fails to develop normally.
Congenital anomaly – birth malformation such as a poorly developed or absent limb.
CO, CP, CPO – A Certified Orthotist, Certified Prosthetist or Certified Prosthetist-Orthotist is an individual who has passed certification standards set by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, Inc.
Comorbidity – a coexisting or additional disease that impacts the primary disease. (For example, diabetes and comorbid neuropathy.)
Condyle – a rounded protuberance at the end of the bone.
Contracture – tightening muscles around a joint restricting range of motion and muscular balance.
Cosmetic cover or cosmesis – the plastic, foam or rubber material, laminate or stocking that covers the prosthetic device.


Desensitization – to reduce or remove sensitivity in the residual limb by massage, tapping or applying vibration.
Disarticulation – an amputation of a limb through the joint that does not cut any bone. Performed at the hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow and wrist.
Distal – toward the feet.
Doff – to take off or remove a prosthesis.
Don – to put on a prosthesis.


Edema – swelling of the tissues.
Elastic wrap – bandage used to prevent swelling, encourage shrinkage and maturation of the residual limb.
Endoskeletal prosthesis – a prosthesis that imitates the function and movement of the human skeleton. All parts and componentry are housed inside a soft, cosmetic covering.
Energy-storing foot – a prosthetic foot with plastic springs or carbon fibers designed to help move the prosthesis forward.
Exoskeletal prosthesis – a weight-bearing prosthesis with a hard, hollow outer shell.
Extension – to stretch or unbend.


Femur – thigh bone.
Femoral – pertaining to the femur.
Fibula – outer and smaller bone in the lower leg.
Flexion – bending
Flexion contracture – inability to extend to normal range of motion.


Gait - the way an individual walks.
Gait training – learning how to walk with a prosthesis.


HKAFO – hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis, encompasses the hip and leg.


Inferior – below or directed downward.
IPOP - immediate post-operative prosthesis, a temporary prosthesis applied in the operating room immediately following amputation.
Ischemia – localized anemia caused by obstruction in the blood supply.


KAFO – knee-ankle-foot orthosis, encompasses the entire leg.


Lamination – method of plastic fabrication involving saturation of a matrix with liquid plastic.
Lateral – away from the midline of the body.
LEA – lower extremity amputation or amputee.
Liner – the suspension system used to hold the prosthesis to the residual limb and provide additional comfort and protection. Also known as roll-on liner.
LSO – lumbosacral orthosis, encompasses the lower torso.


Mature – refers to a residual limb that has stabilized in volume and shape.
Medial – toward the midline of the body.
Microprocessor-controlled knee – device equipped with a sensor that detects full extension of the knee and automatically adjusts the swing phase of ambulation.


Neuroma – nerve endings that are severed during amputation that form a mass (neuroma) and can be troublesome or painful.
Neuropathy – loss of feeling in the feet or other extremities.


Orthopedist – a doctor specializing in the treatment of bone disorders.


Partial suction – the socket of an AK prosthesis that has been modified to allow the wearing of a prosthetic sock.
Pistoning – when a residual limb slips in the socket during walking.
Posterior – toward the rear.
Prosthesis – an artificial replacement for a missing limb.
Prosthetist – a person who designs, makes and fits artificial limbs.
Proximal – toward the top.


Residual limb – the portion of an arm or leg remaining after amputation. Also referred to as a stump.
Rigid dressing – a cast applied over the residual limb soon after amputation that is used to control swelling and pain, promote shrinkage and shaping of the residual limb.


Shrinker – an elastic wrap or compression sock worn on the residual limb to prevent swelling and encourage shrinkage.
Socket – the portion of the prosthesis that fits around the residual limb. Prosthetic components are attached to the socket.
Split hooks – terminal devices for upper-extremity amputees that consists of two hook-shaped fingers that are opened and closed through action of a harness and cable system.
Stubbies (foreshortened prostheses) – standard sockets with modified rocker bottoms that are used during and sometimes after initial ambulatory rehabilitation.
Stump sock – wool or cotton sock worn over residual limb to provide a cushion between the skin and socket interface.
Suction – forcing air out of the socket through a one-way valve when donning and using the prosthesis.
Superior – above or upwardly directed.
Supracondylar – above the condyles.
Suspension system – used to secure the prosthesis to the residual limb. May include suction, a strap or belt, a wedge, neoprene sleeve or other method.


Tibia – shin bone.
TLSO – thoracolumbar-sacral orthosis, encompass the entire torso.
Terminal device – device attached to the wrist unit of an upper-extremity prosthesis that provides grasp, release, etc.
Tubercle – small protuberance on a bone that usually forms an attachment point of a muscle.


Vascular amputation – an amputation caused by lack of blood flow to a limb.


Weight-bearing area – the area of the residual limb that can tolerate pressure and stabilizing forces.
WHO – wrist-hand orthosis, encompasses the wrist and hand.
Wrist disarticulation – an amputation through the wrist.