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Find common orthotics & prosthetics terms and their definitions below. 

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AE Amputation

Above-the-elbow or transhumeral amputee

AK Amputee

Above-the-knee or transfemoral amputee


Position of a prosthetic socket in relation to foot and knee


Removal of all or part of a limb due to infection, injury, tumor, disease or trauma


A person who has had all or part of a limb removed/amputated or is born without a limb

Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)

a support brace used to control the position and motion of the ankle, typically used to help compensate for muscle weakness or deformity



BE Amputee

Below-the-elbow – Trans Radial


Bi means both, meaning both sides

BK Amputee

Below-the-Knee – Trans Tibial

Body Image

Awareness and perception of one’s body related to both appearance and function



Carbon Fiber

Non-stretch carbon fabric used to reinforce lightweight composite resin structures, such as prosthetic components and socket

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

a condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and arm, typically due to the compression of a major nerve

Cervical Thoracic Lumbar Sacral Orthosis (CTLSO)

a two-piece brace used to stabilize the head, neck and spine after surgery and/or spinal fracture in order to decrease pain and promote recovery


A type of partial foot amputation

Congenital Limb Deficiency

When all or parts of limb/s do not develop normally in the womb or are missing


the shortening and hardening of muscles, tendons or other tissue that may lead to the deformity or rigidity of joints, often seen as a result of a preceding health condition such as injury or disease


Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist




Limb is amputated through the joint


Taking the prosthesis off


Putting the prosthesis on

Drop Foot (or Foot Drop)

a general term used to describe the difficulty or inability to lift the toes and ball of the foot, often seen as a symptom of an underlying neurological or muscular condition




Swelling of the tissues (also spelled oedema)

Elbow Orthosis (EO)

a hinged orthosis extending from the forearm to the upper arm that supports the elbow for cases of joint injury, stiffness or instability

Elbow Wrist Hand Orthosis (EWHO)

an orthosis used to support the arm below the shoulder joint and treat disorders involving the elbow, wrist, hand and/or fingers


Relating to arm or leg



Femoral Fracture

a break of the femur bone in the upper leg



Gait Training

Learning to walk with a prosthesis, often with assistance from a Physical Therapist



Hip Abduction Orthosis

a brace worn to support the hip joint and help hold the femur in place

Hip Disarticulation

Amputation of entire lower limb at hip level; Ischial Tuberosity, also called the ischial bone or ischium; located in the pelvis and used for weight bearing

Hip Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis (HKAFO)

a brace used to stabilize the leg and support mobility, often used to treat muscular imbalance or weakness, paralysis and other medical conditions

Humeral Fracture

a break of the humerus bone in the upper arm




Inner surface of socket, or portion of prosthesis closest to the skin



Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis (KAFO)

an orthosis worn from the mid-hip down to the foot in order to provide protection and stability of the knee joint and support the mobility of the lower leg

Knee Orthosis (KO)

a durable brace that surrounds the knee and is used to stabilize and support the ligaments, tendons and muscles above and below the joint




Soft socket rolled or pulled over the residual limb and used for protection, comfort and in some cases as a suspension device

Lower Extremity

Lower limb

Lumbar Sacral Orthosis (LSO)

a formfitting brace worn around the torso to help immobilize and support the lumbar (lower) spine, usually used to reduce pain and protect the spine after a spinal fracture or surgery




Type of upper extremity prosthesis using bio-feedback to control the function



Occupational Therapy

Training to maximize independence in daily life


A brace/device that is used to straighten and provide support to a limb or the spine (plural: orthoses)


One who fits braces and devices designed to straighten or support extremities/spine


the most common form of arthritis caused by the deterioration of protective cartilage cushioning the point of contact where bones meet



Partial Foot

Amputation through any part of the foot leaving the ankle intact

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Disease of the blood vessels from a variety of causes

Pes Cavus (or High Arch)

a condition in which the sole of the foot is distinctly hollow when bearing weight and often causes pain, discomfort or instability

Pes Planus (or Flat Feet)

a condition causing the full sole of the foot to touch the floor when standing and sometimes causes the heel or other parts of the foot to ache or feel discomfort

Phantom Pain

Painful feeling in the part of the extremity that has been amputated

Phantom Sensation

Awareness of the amputated limb although not described as pain

Physical Therapy

Therapeutic exercises in order to treat a disease or a disability


The vertical motion of a residual limb inside a prosthetic socket- sometimes occurs when the liner stretches so that the stump elongates


A sense of the location/orientation of one’s limb in space


A fabricated/artificial substitute for a body part that is missing (plural: prostheses)


A practitioner who designs, fits and makes artificial limbs

Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD)

shortened femur bone




Limb loss involving all four limbs



Residual Limb

The remaining part of the limb after amputation (the “stump”)




a diagnosis of the sideways curvature of the spine, most often seen in children due to a growth spurt prior to puberty

Shoe (or Heel) Lift

a padded insert to be worn in the shoe, commonly used to support leg-length differences and help treat knee, hip or back pain

Shoulder Elbow Wrist Hand Orthosis (SEWHO)

an elbow extension orthosis designed to provide anatomical alignment of the shoulder, humerus, forearm, wrist and hand


The part of the prosthesis (artificial limb) that fits around the residual limb – and fits around the liner or socket insert if one is used

Socket Insert

A soft foam that is contoured to fit around the residual limb and fits inside the socket to provide for some increased padding and comfort for the residual limb


A less commonly used word that describes the remaining limb


An elastic sock that fits over the residual limb that is made to control swelling, promote healing, and assist in shaping the limb


a condition in which muscles stiffen or tighten, remain contracted and resist being stretched – affecting the normal fluid motion of movement and gait

Suction Socket

A socket on an artificial leg that excludes the entry of air and is held to the residual limb by the suction of negative pressure maintained within the socket


Amputation through the ankle



Thoracic Lumbar Sacral Orthosis (TLSO)

a custom-molded plastic orthosis worn around the torso to help correct the curve progression of the spine, most commonly used to treat scoliosis

Total Contact

Total contact between the residual limb and socket at all points


Amputation below the elbow (through the radius and ulna bones)

Transfemoral (TF)

Amputation above the knee (through the femur bone)

Transmetasatal (TM)

Amputation through the metatarsal foot bones (partial foot amputation)


Amputation of entire lower limb, plus a portion of the pelvic bone; may also be referred to as a hemipelvectomy

Transtibial (TT)

Amputation below the knee (through the tibia and fibula bones)


Amputation above the elbow (through the humerus bone)


Limb loss involving three limbs



Upper Extremity

Upper limb



Vascular Amputation

Amputation surgery performed as a result of impaired circulation of blood through the blood vessels of the limb



Wrist Hand Orthosis (WHO)

an orthosis to treat disorders below the elbow joint and support the function of the wrist, hand and/or fingers