Prosthetic knees are designed for people who have amputations above their knee, and thus lack the knee joint and lower leg. In reality, you need more than just the knee. For one thing, you need a socket, the bucket-shell that encases your limb and attaches to the prosthetic knee joint on top. You also need something that attaches to the prosthetic knee joint on the bottom (a metal tube known as a pylon) and a prosthetic foot. All of these put together are known as a prosthetic “system” or prosthesis. Your prosthetic system will be unique to you and your needs.
In general, there are two kinds of prosthetic knees: non-microprocessor (or “mechanical”) and microprocessor. Mechanical knees all use a mechanical hinge to replace your knee joint. How quickly or easily the hinge swings is often controlled by friction, some type of hydraulic system or a locking mechanism.
Microprocessors, on the other hand, provide a more sophisticated method of control to a prosthetic knee. These more complex knee joints are designed to help you walk with a much more stable and efficient gait that more closely resembles a natural walking pattern.
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Is a microprocessor knee system right for me?
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