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What's the best prosthetic leg?


The first thing to remember when trying to answer this question is that everyone is different, with different body shapes and different lifestyles. This means that a better way to put the question is, “What’s the best prosthetic leg for me?” Claims about the capabilities of a specific prosthetic component in isolation fail to show the full picture, which includes the specific user’s physical potential and the role that the other components play in the dynamics of the complete, assembled prosthetic leg. It’s also vital to remember that every prosthetic leg starts with the design of a socket best suited to the anatomy of the individual: if the socket doesn’t give a good, comfortable fit, if the suspension that links the socket to the body doesn’t perform well, and if all the components aren’t correctly aligned, then even the most expensive prosthetic components will probably fall short of what you need. Talking about one component in isolation is misleading and invariably leads to unrealistic expectations and disappointment…

Having said this, it doesn’t mean the individual components aren’t also important in designing a comfortable, safe and efficient prosthetic leg. In fact, choosing the right components often makes the difference between being able to continue certain lifestyle activities and having to change your lifestyle. The variety of components available to build a prosthesis has increased vastly in the past decade: they now range from simple mechanical-passive instruments to intelligent, powered bionic devices that adapt to the user and the terrain. When the appropriate components are selected and based on a comfortable socket, aligned accurately and suspended in an efficient way, they can function as intended - and play a critical role to restore your mobility to a level as close as possible to what it was before. While no prosthesis is going to be as good as a natural limb – not in the foreseeable future, at any rate− prosthetic improvements in recent years have allowed people with limb loss to enjoy more physical freedom than was previously thought possible. 

A good prosthetist will stay up to date with the latest developments, but it’s also important for you as the user to get to know what’s currently available. Discuss these developments with your prosthetist, but, as we’ve said before, always remember that there isn’t a definitive “best” device, since every person is different and has different needs. We recommend that you and your prosthetist get together to explore the right selection of components for you, of course giving full weight to your own perceptions and judgement, but also keeping an open mind and delaying your final decision until you feel confident that you’ve taken all the relevant factors into account.