Micro-Processor Prosthetic Knees

Micro-Processor Knee Units

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?

Most microprocessor knees can be used by people with amputation at the knee (knee disarticulation) and above the knee (transfemoral). They provide the same benefits to double amputees (bilateral limb deficiency) and people with an amputation at the hip (hip disarticulation). They also can be used by people with a hemipelvectomy amputation and good walking ability. Check each knee system to see their recommended “indications,” or ask your prosthetist.

How do I choose a knee system?

  • Selecting a computerized knee system depends largely on your individual activity level, age, health, and lifestyle. Another factor to take into consideration is your walking pattern or gait cycle. If you are more active, you may find that a microprocessor knee system is more suitable for your activity level, since it offers more assistance with assessing movement. For others, the high level of stability (preventing falls) provided by C-Leg or Genium is also important. Your health care team will work closely with you to make the decision.

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