Prostheses (Upper Extremities)

A prosthesis is a replacement for a lost limb. There are many levels of upper extremity amputation, and many types of prostheses. What is provided depends on your needs, lifestyle, goals, and insurance/finances. At the University of Michigan, we offer the full range of upper extremity prostheses along with complete, compassionate care, to get you back to living your life. We listen to you and provide you with information and a prosthetic recommendation which best fits your needs. We offer the most appropriate and cutting-edge prostheses available.

We ensure your upper extremity prosthesis is:

  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Well-functioning
  • Cosmetically pleasing
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • The best choice for you

Our team includes prosthetists, occupational therapists (OTs), physicians, and most importantly you the patient. As a team, we will evaluate your needs and discuss options with you to help you make the most informed decision on which prosthesis is best for you.

Prostheses can range from a passive, more cosmetic device to a highly functional device with state-of-the-art design and cutting-edge componentry. Our team creates prostheses for patients with amputations at the fingers, partial hand, wrist  disarticulation, below elbow, elbow disarticulation, above elbow, shoulder disarticulation, and forequarter levels of amputation. 

We welcome the opportunity to utilize creative solutions to meet our patient’s needs for a single amputation or multiple amputations. Our goal is to help you achieve your goals.

After an initial evaluation, our team will create the initial mold for the socket or interface of the prosthesis, design the prosthesis, and custom fabricate the prosthesis. We strive to fit patients with upper extremity prostheses as quickly as possible to help you become as functional as possible with the prosthesis. Research has shown a quicker transition to prosthetic use makes you more likely to use the prosthesis as a tool to help with your activities of daily living.  Learning how to use a prosthesis proficiently will take time and patience.

Your first prosthesis is called a provisional prosthesis because your limb will still be healing and changing. In this initial stage, you can expect to see a change in limb shape and size as you begin training on how to use your prosthesis. Your definitive, or final, prosthesis is made once your limb has completely healed and has a stable shape and size.

What to expect:

  • During the initial visit you will be seen by a physician and prosthetist for an evaluation. At this visit you will be able to ask questions and the physician will ask questions about you. We will want to know your lifestyle, your goals, your daily activities, and your needs as well as your overall health, to determine the best prosthetic device for you. Prosthetic options will be discussed with you. Typically a compression sock will be prescribed at this visit to help reduce any swelling and stabilize your limb volume.
  • At the second visit, you will be cast and measured for a provisional prosthesis. Casting involves being wrapped with a plaster bandage to capture an accurate impression of your limb. Older clothing is better to wear for the casting appointment in case plaster gets on you.  A tank top/short sleeve shirt for upper extremity patients will allow the practitioner to easily cast your limb. The first and second visit may be combined if time allows.
  • At the third visit, you will be fit with a test socket. A test socket is made from a clear plastic so that your prosthetists can see where adjustments need to be made. Once the socket is fitting well, the prosthesis will be assembled and you will begin training to use the prosthesis with your occupational therapist.
  • Once you begin wearing the compression sock or the prosthesis, it is normal to see changes occurring to your limb. Using the provisional prosthesis allows for changes to easily be made to the socket to accommodate to change in your limb before beginning to wear a more definitive device.
  • Once training has occurred and your limb stabilizes, a definitive prosthesis will be made.

The University of Michigan Orthotics & Prosthetics Center has been awarded the maximum three-year accreditation by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics, Inc., and is among the few University based facilities in the country that offer comprehensive orthotic and prosthetic services. We custom design prosthetic devices to fit each patient’s individual needs, and utilize several techniques including plaster casting, 3-D imaging, and CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing)  to quickly and efficiently design and fabricate the devices.

Our outpatient center is conveniently located in Ann Arbor, minutes from I-94 and US-23. Parking is free and our facility is easy to access. Call ahead and we will be happy to provide wheelchair support. Physician prescriptions are required for orthotics and prosthetics services. Some walk-in services are available for urgent repair issues. Please call ahead.

Team members:

Brian Kelly, DO
Alicia Baxter, CPO
Megan Christ, MSPO, CPO
Megan Diemer, MSPO, CPO
Quaintance Miller, MS, OTR-L

Schedule an appointment by calling us at 734-973-2400.