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The War Amps provides amputees with financial assistance for artificial limbs and information resources that address all aspects of amputation.

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Living With Amputation

The War Amps provides amputees and their families with invaluable resources on living with amputation. These sheets and booklets are offered in an accessible format that is easy to comprehend. Our information is gathered at prosthetic conferences, through direct contact with manufacturing companies, prosthetic and orthotic professionals, and from medical journals and books.

The content on this site is provided for educational purposes only. Your prosthetist and clinic team should provide guidance on specific issues you may have.

With more than a century of expertise, The War Amps offers comprehensive information on all aspects of living with amputation. The War Amps is not affiliated with any prosthetic/orthotic manufacturer or supplier and does not endorse any specific product or treatment. Please consult your health-care provider to determine the course of care that is best for you.

We Are Here to Help

If you are a new Amputee Please contact us!

Whether you, a friend, or family member is facing or living with amputation, The War Amps can provide support, encouragement and information.
1 877 622-2472

Prosthetic Limbs and Devices

Prosthetic Limbs and Devices

Prosthetic limbs and devices are an important part of everyday life for most amputees. Educating yourself about some of the available products and components will help you to be more actively involved in discussing the options with your prosthetist.

Leg amputees need prosthetic legs for mobility and arm amputees use prosthetic arms/devices to help with many daily activities. It must be noted, though, that sometimes due to the level and cause of amputation, other health factors, or multiple amputations, it may not be practical to be fitted with a prosthetic limb(s). Your clinic team will recommend if any rehabilitation therapy (prosthetic and physio- or occupational therapy) is appropriate.

For suspension and a comfortable fit, some amputees also wear liners and prosthetic socks between the artificial limb and residual limb (the part of your limb remaining after amputation).

Upper Limb

Lower Limb

Healthy Living for Amputees

Healthy Living for Amputees

When a person becomes an amputee the initial rehabilitation period involves issues like residual limb bandaging, exercises, the temporary (or preparatory) prosthetic fitting, and physiotherapy and occupational therapy. There are, of course, the emotional issues to deal with too.

There are also many health-related concerns, such as residual limb and socket hygiene, and weight control, that become an ongoing part of an amputee’s life.



New amputees may experience the emotional challenges presented by amputation surgery, rehabilitation, learning to use a prosthesis and, in time, accepting the amputation as part of their body image. Individuals born with limb loss and their families may also experience some of these.

In addition to coming to terms with the amputation themselves, amputees also have to consider that there may be a change in how their family, friends and the general public will perceive them. How an amputation might impact current or future relationships is another important topic.

Pain and Phantom Limbs

Pain and Phantom Limbs

Phantom limb pain is the feeling of pain in an absent limb or portion of a limb. Phantom limb pain can range in type and intensity and varies from person to person. For example, a mild form might be experienced as a sharp, intermittent stabbing pain causing the limb to jerk. An example of a more severe type might be the feeling that the missing limb is being crushed. Often phantom limb pain diminishes in frequency and intensity over time. For a small number of amputees, however, phantom limb pain can become chronic and debilitating.

A great deal of research has been done to explain what phantom limb pain is and its causes. Pain “memories” and pain “gate” theories are among the most recent possible explanations, indicating that whole-body “mapping” exists in the brain. Even when a piece of the body no longer exists, the “body map” remains intact and phantom sensation or pain can result when the brain sends persistent messages to limbs not there.

Techniques for alleviating phantom limb pain can be found in our Pain and Phantom Limbs booklet. The articles found in this booklet have been gathered from many sources; some are anecdotal. Our aim is only to provide information on some of the techniques available. You should discuss your pain management plan with your doctor or clinic team.

Pain and Phantom Limbs

If you would like to receive a printed copy of the Pain and Phantom Limbs booklet, please contact us.
1 877 622-2472

Life As an Amputee: Lower Limb Amputees
Life As an Amputee: Lower Limb Amputees

Life As an Amputee: Lower Limb Amputees

If you are about to become an amputee, or have recently undergone an amputation, you are entering new territory and may not know what to expect. This booklet provides a brief introduction to issues surrounding amputation, including information about your clinic team of medical professionals, the rehabilitation process and the reactions you and others may have to your amputation. It will also highlight the resources The War Amps has available to new amputees and how to receive them. This booklet contains four parts:

  • About your amputation
  • Reactions to your amputation
  • Learning to walk again on an artificial limb
  • Adapting your environment: Daily living aids and housing modifications

Life As an Amputee: Lower Limb Amputees

If you would like to receive a printed copy of the Life As an Amputee: Lower Limb Amputees booklet, please contact us.
1 877 622-2472

Daily Living Aids
Daily Living Aids

Daily Living Aids

In addition to the prosthetic limbs amputees require, there are many assistive devices and ideas to help amputees in their day-to-day lives. Our Daily Living Aids booklet provides information on household aids, recreational aids, mobility aids and more.

Many communities have stores that sell daily living aids. Performance Health and Maddak Inc. carry a large selection of daily living aids and will ship them directly to your home.

Daily Living Aids

If you would like to receive a printed copy of the Daily Living Aids booklet, please contact us.
1 877 622-2472

Licence to Drive
Licence to Drive

Licence to Drive

Driving is an important means to independence for amputees, helping you to carry out daily living tasks outside the home as well as take part in social activities.

Whether you are a licensed driver who has recently become an amputee, or an amputee going for your driver’s licence for the first time, the information in the Licence to Drive booklet applies to you.

  • Will you need special devices on your vehicle or special driver training?
  • What does obtaining or renewing your driver’s licence entail?
  • Will you have any restrictions on your licence?

This booklet contains the answers to frequently asked questions about amputation and driving in Canada, along with a list of provincial and territorial ministries of transportation and modification centres.

Licence to Drive

If you would like to receive a printed copy of the Licence to Drive booklet, please contact us.
1 877 622-2472

Amputees in the Workforce
Amputees in the Workforce

Amputees in the Workforce

The resource booklet Amputees in the Workforce addresses questions and concerns amputees might have when they begin to search for a job, such as:

  • What type of job should I apply for?
  • When and how should I discuss my amputation with a prospective employer?
  • Will I need special equipment or accommodations to do the job?

This booklet also provides information related to employer prejudice, employment equity and helpful employment resources for persons with disabilities.

Amputees in the Workforce

If you would like to receive a printed copy of the Amputees in the Workforce booklet, please contact us.
1 877 622-2472

Amputation Levels

Amputation Levels

Amputees, as well as their friends and family, may not have a clear understanding of amputation procedures and how the level of amputation affects what types of prostheses can be fitted. You also may not be familiar with all the terms that specialists (like an orthopedic surgeon and prosthetist) use. Having a visual diagram that explains the amputation levels, and a list of frequently used technical terms can be very useful in helping you understand your amputation.

Amputation Levels

The level of your amputation(s) will be referred to by the clinic team and will have a bearing on what type of prostheses you can be fitted with. We have indicated the amputation levels, as well as the commonly used abbreviations and names with the medical term in brackets where necessary.

Amputation Levels

PFFD / Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency


Proximal – nearest point to centre or to point of attachment
Femoral – the thigh bone (the longest and strongest bone in the body - extending from the pelvis to the knee)
Focal – focus or starting point
Deficiency – lack or shortage; less than necessary

Levels of PFFD vary:

  • A shorter femur (can vary in length)
  • Hip joint is also affected or may be absent
  • One or both legs may be affected
  • Varying effects on the foot
  • Knee may be absent, or not fully functional

Solutions that may be recommended:

  • An extension prosthesis
  • Amputation of the foot, giving the function of an above knee amputation
  • A rotationplasty procedure providing similar function to a below knee amputation
  • Limb-lengthening (length of the femur, condition of the hip and knee are factors in determining if limb-lengthening is feasible)

Rotationplasty (Van Nes Rotation)

Rotationplasty (Van Nes Rotation

Rotationplasty (e.g. Van Nes Rotation) – a procedure where the lower portion of the leg is rotated 180° and reattached – the ankle acts like a knee joint, providing extra function.

Technical Terms

The list below explains some of the terms commonly used in the field of prosthetics. You may want to keep it handy for future reference!

  • Abrasion

    Wearing away of the skin through rubbing or friction

  • Acquired amputation

    An amputation due to a traumatic injury, or an amputation necessary to treat a disease or illness

  • AE

    An above-elbow amputation

  • AK

    An above-knee amputation

  • Alignment

    How the components in an artificial leg line up in relation to each other

  • Amputation

    Removal of all or part of a limb(s) due to injury, disease or illness

  • Amputee

    A person who has had all or part of a limb(s) removed or is born without all or part of a limb(s)

  • Anterior

    The front side

  • Atrophy

    The shrinkage of muscle tissue due to change in function

  • BE

    A below-elbow amputation

  • Bilateral amputee

    An amputee missing both arms or both legs

  • BK

    A below-knee amputation


    Acronym for computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing; refers to technology in the making of artificial limbs

  • Cadence

    Rhythm of walking

  • Check/diagnostic socket

    A temporary plastic socket formed over the plaster model to assist in the fitting process

  • Congenital amputee

    A person who was born missing part or all of a limb(s)

  • Contracture

    Tightening of muscles around a joint which causes restriction in the range of motion

  • Cosmesis

    Cosmetic (aesthetic) appearance of an artificial limb

  • Cosmetic glove

    An outer covering, which is often lifelike, to protect a prosthetic hand

  • CP

    Certified Prosthetist

  • CPO

    Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist

  • Definitive prosthesis

    An artificial limb designed for long term comfort, fit, alignment, function, cosmetic appeal and durability (to replace temporary/preparatory first fitting)

  • Desensitization

    The process of making the residual limb less sensitive to touch by massaging, tapping, using vibrations or rubbing with a cloth

  • Disarticulation

    An amputation through a joint – the hip, knee, ankle, elbow, wrist or shoulder

  • Distal

    Farthest from the centre/trunk (e.g., the foot is the distal part of the leg)

  • Doffing

    Taking off a prosthesis

  • Donning

    Putting on a prosthesis

  • Edema

    Swelling of tissue

  • Endoskeletal prosthesis

    Has a soft outer shell (supported by an internal skeleton of a pylon, etc.) – components are lightweight and require fewer adjustments

  • Energy return

    Energy output, achieved by a spring-like design in prosthetic feet

  • Exoskeletal prosthesis

    Hard outer shell – generally heavier but more durable than endoskeletal. The components last longer and are more suitable for recreational activities

  • Flexion

    Joint motion; flexing or bending a joint

  • Gait

    Manner of walking, which is individual to each person

  • Gait training

    Professional training to achieve a natural gait (manner of walking) or to correct gait deviations

  • Hook device

    A terminal device operated by body movement that provides a good grasping function

  • Hypertrophy

    Increase in the size of muscle tissue due to use

  • Interface

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

  • Lateral

    Towards the side or outside (e.g., the outside of the thigh is a lateral part of the leg)

  • Lower extremity

    Lower limb

  • Medial

    Towards the midline of the body (e.g., the inside of the thigh is a medial part of the leg)

  • Myoelectric

    Prosthetic technology that uses electronic sensors to pick up the feedback from muscle contractions to move artificial components such as a hand or elbow

  • Neuroma

    A ball of nerve fibres that forms on the end of a severed nerve that continues to grow and can sometimes cause pain

  • Occupational therapist

    A person who works with an amputee to teach the amputee how to use a prosthesis (such as a myoelectric arm) and adaptive skills

  • Opposition post

    A device that assists partial hand amputees to grasp while retaining sensation (also referred to as a spatula device)

  • Orthopedic surgeon

    A person who performs surgery on bones or muscles (i.e., amputation, hip replacement, residual limb revision surgery)

  • Orthosis

    Device used to support weakened joints or limbs

  • Orthotist

    A person who builds and maintains devices to support weakened joints or limbs, such as a brace

  • PFFD/Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency

    Proximal – nearest point to centre or to point of attachment
    Femoral – the thigh bone (the longest and strongest bone in the body, extending from the pelvis to the knee)
    Focal – focus or starting point
    Deficiency – lack or shortage

  • Phantom limb pain

    Pain experienced by an amputee in a limb or part of a limb no longer present

  • Phantom limb sensation

    Sensation that a limb or part of a limb no longer there is still present

  • Physiatrist

    A doctor of rehabilitation medicine specializing in the comprehensive management of clients with conditions arising from neuromuscular, muskuloskeletal and vascular disorders

  • Physiotherapist

    A person who works with an amputee in the rehabilitation phase to improve muscle function through exercise and can assist with gait training

  • Pistoning

    The act of a residual limb slipping up and down within the socket

  • Ply

    The thickness of prosthetic socks (i.e., the higher the number, the thicker the sock)

  • Posterior

    The back side

  • Prostheses

    More than one prosthesis (artificial limb)

  • Prosthesis

    An artificial limb

  • Prosthetic sock

    A sock generally worn with an artificial limb that provides additional padding for bony surfaces

  • Prosthetist

    A professional who builds and maintains artificial limbs

  • Pylon

    A rigid central shaft, usually tubular, that is attached to the socket or knee unit of an endoskeletal prosthesis. The lower end of the pylon is connected to an artificial foot or ankle

  • Range of motion

    The amount of movement a limb has in a specific direction at a specific joint (e.g., hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow or wrist)

  • Rehabilitation

    The process of restoring a person who has been debilitated to a functional life

  • Residual limb

    The part of the limb remaining after the amputation

  • Revision surgery

    Surgical alteration of the residual limb to improve function or appearance

  • Rotationplasty

    A procedure where the lower portion of the leg is rotated 180 degrees and reattached. The ankle acts like a knee joint, providing extra function (e.g., Van Nes rotation)

  • Sequelae

    Long-term effects of a disease, injury, procedure or treatment

  • Socket

    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

  • Soft insert liner

    Cup-shaped form that fits inside the socket of a below-knee artificial limb

  • Soft socket

    Soft liner within a socket to provide cushioning

  • Sound limb

    Limb that does not have an amputation

  • Spatula device

    A device that assists partial hand amputees to grasp while retaining sensation (also referred to as an opposition post)

  • Stump

    The part of the limb remaining (aka residual limb)

  • Suspension

    Method by which the artificial limb is held in place

  • Syme's amputation

    Named for the surgeon who introduced the procedure – the foot is removed, the shin bones are flattened and the heel pad is sewn back in place; is similar to a Boyd amputation

  • Terminal device

    The part of the artificial arm that acts like a hand – can be a passive or mechanical hand, hook or myoelectric device

  • Total suction socket

    Allows the artificial limb to be held in place by air pressure only, eliminates the use of belts and straps

  • Van Nes rotation

    A procedure where the lower portion of the leg is rotated 180 degrees and reattached. The ankle acts as a knee joint, providing extra function

  • Vascular amputation

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