Brief History of the Prosthetic Leg

Fun Facts and The History of The Prosthetic Leg

The history of the prosthetic leg is a long, story-filled evolution. From wooden peg legs, to today’s perfectly casted, functional prosthetics, it’s very clear that the prosthetic field has come very far. To truly celebrate and appreciate the evolution of the prosthetic leg, let’s go back in time to see the fascinating history of where it all started.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians believed that after death, they would be judged to determine whether they can assume a position in eternity, or be consumed by their own greed. One of the factors that was believe to be judged was the individual’s wholeness. This meant that missing a limb could affect the deceased in the afterlife. Egyptians artificial limbs were made from fiber, and were designed to physically replace the missing limb, rather than functioning.

The Capula Leg

The Capula leg is a prosthetic leg that was found in a grave in Capula, Italy. The leg dates back to 300 B.C. The leg was crafted by the Egyptians from bronze and steel, and fitted with a wooden core. This is the oldest surviving leg prosthesis.

The Dark Ages

The dark ages, 500–1100, showed very little advancement is prosthetics. Aside from those wounded in battle, only the wealthy could afford prosthetic limbs. Most prosthetics during this time were made only to hide injuries that occurred during battles.

The Renaissance

During the Renaissance period, Ambroise Paré became known as the Father of The Modern Prosthetic leg. He was the official royal surgeon for four French kings. He used his understanding of anatomy to develop functionable prosthetic limbs for all parts of the body. Ambroise Pare was the first to develop an above-knee prosthetic that had an adjustable harness and a hinge-knee with lock control, both of which are still used today.

16th-19th Century

During this time period, many inventors continued to advance the science of the prosthetic leg, due to the advances Ambroise Pare had made. During this time, Pieter Verduyn, a Dutch surgeon, invented a non locking below-knee prosthetic. In 1800, James Potts invented an above-knee prosthetic that had a calf and thigh socket made of wood, and a flexible foot attached with catgut tendons to a steel knee joint. This design was not only more advanced, but more pleasing to look at. In 1839 this design made its way to America, where it became the standard leading up to the Civil War

American Civil War

The Civil War caused a huge increase in the demand for prosthetic legs. This led a rapid growth in prosthetic leg technology. James Hanger, a confederate soldier and engineer, became one of the first amputees of the Civil War. He invented the Hanger Limb. The Hanger Limb featured hinged joints at the knee and ankle. It was the most advanced limb in the history of prosthetics.

20th Century

There wasn’t much advancement after the Civil War until 1946. In 1946, researchers at UC Berkeley developed a suction sock for lower-limb amputees. Then, in the 1970’s, Ysidro M. Martinez invented a lower limb prosthetic that focused on reducing friction and improving gait. This made walking with a prosthetic on much more comfortable for amputees.

Today and The Future of Prosthetics

Today, we are closer than ever before to replicating the full function of an amputated limb. With so many advancements made, such as 3D printing and biometrics, we are able to re-create limbs that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but provide functioning and comfortability. The future of prosthetics is bright and full of rapid advancements.

The history and evolution of the prosthetic leg is long and full of incredible stories and advancement. Long gone are the days where humans have to feel incomplete or inferior from having an amputated limb, and we owe it to the amazing inventors of our past, and the scholars of our future. Check out our gallery photos for some inspiration or a glimpse of the prosthetic work we do!


Manage Sweat in Your Prosthesis

How Can I Manage Sweat in my Prosthesis?

One of the great benefits of Florida life is that you can be outside and active year round.  However, this could lead to sweat build up in your prosthesis.  Especially if you have an active lifestyle. Not only are you uncomfortable, but you also run the risk of skin breakdown.  In this article, we will discuss the dangers of excess sweating and various options that will help you control this problem.

Dangers of Skin Breakdown

Your skin is your body’s first line of defense against disease.  The first sign of trouble is inflammation and/or a rash that can be quite uncomfortable.  This environment is ideal for microbes to multiply and result in a number of health problems.

The longer that excess moisture stays on your skin, the greater the chance for problems to develop.  Once your sheath is soaked with sweat, friction occurs between the sheath and your damp skin, causing blisters to develop.  These blisters can become infected and painful, and if left untreated, they can lead to a life-threatening systemic blood infection.

Another complication that can occur is when sweat has built up inside the gel liner.  It causes the liner to slip off of the skin.  When this happens, your suspension is affected, which causes your prosthesis to fit differently.  This increases movement of your limb, which can also lead to skin breakdown and the problems outlined above.

What You Can Do About It

Preparation is key.  Anticipating your needs ahead of time and bringing the necessary items with you that you will need to keep sweat at a minimum can help you avoid the dangers that excessive sweat inside your prosthesis can cause.  Here is a checklist you should follow whenever you have activities planned that could cause you to sweat.

  • Bring a washcloth and an extra sheath or pair of cotton socks and take stop periodically to remove your prosthesis and wash off the sweat.  Replace the wet sheath or sock with one of the dry ones you have brought with you before reapplying your prosthesis to continue.
  • Make sure your gel liner fits well and is in good shape.  If your liner is loose, replace it before you embark on any activities.  A loose-fitting liner allows the sweat to pool more.
  • The night before a planned outing, apply an antiperspirant to the skin of your limb.  Be sure to do this at night when your prosthesis is off, because the chemicals in it can cause deterioration of some gel liners.  Antiperspirants that are prescription strength are recommended and can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription.  They are powerful and can dry out your skin, so be sure to use it no more than every other day until you see how well you tolerate it.
  • For below-the-knee amputations, you can wear an absorbent headband above the gel liner or suspension sleeve to absorb any sweat that trickles down towards the liner.
  • Try wearing some of the newer wicking socks.  These go under your liner and are supposed to absorb more sweat.  There is also a new material available called the SmartTemp Liner, which contains a NASA-developed material for astronauts.  This new product has been shown to lower skin temperatures, so there is less sweat production.

Follow these tips and enjoy the outdoors year round.  Be sure to consult your prosthetist for recommendations specific to you and your needs.


New Prosthesis?

9 Tips to Maximize the benefits of your new prosthesis

If you are a recent amputee there are some things you can do on a regular basis to improve and enhance the use of your prosthesis. If you are looking to maximize the use of your prosthesis and achieve success in your daily life following amputation, these 9 tips can help:

Be a good patient

Follow your prosthetist’s orders and examine your residual limb on a daily basis for any issues that would need to be an addressed. Also, keep the insides of your liners clean and when necessary wear prosthetic socks to enhance the fit. You also may want to consider wearing a shrinker overnight to help mold your residual limb and reduce swelling.

Avoid procrastination

If you are experiencing any issues with comfort or fit or even skin issues don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Call as soon as you see or feel an issue. A small issue can become a larger one if you wait too long.

Create goals for yourself

At first, make small goals for yourself involving daily physical activity and increase those steps gradually. Always challenge yourself to do a little more each day.

Wear your prosthesis every day

The more you wear your new prosthesis you will get more accustomed to wearing it regularly. If it has a comfortable fit you could wear it all day long until bedtime getting your body used to it quicker.

Trial and error

When you are a new amputee you will have to do a bit of experimental work as your residual limb changes. You will need to focus on the way it feels in the socket and become knowledgeable about how you can change it for the better. Possibilities include taking away or adding the partial or full-length prosthetic socks or even removing and re-donning a slipped liner.

Don’t forget to exercise

You will need to build up strength in the remaining muscles so that you can stand and walk with a balanced and efficient gait. This takes a bit of time and effort on your part. We recommend every new amputee work with a physical therapist to help with the learning process.

Keep an eye on your weight

After your amputation, you will likely be a bit less active during the initial recovery period. You need to watch your weight during this time and understand that socket fit can change depending on your weight. Try to maintain a healthy diet even though you are not quite as active. Your activity level will build back up again once you are accustomed to the prosthesis.

Seek comradeship

Amputees all have something in common. Going through daily life as a new amputee can be challenging at times and everybody deals with it a bit differently. A great way to help with the adjustment is to seek out a support group. Meeting and talking with other amputees is a great way to feel supported as well and to discuss issues that you may have been having with others in the same situation.

Take a look positive ahead

As a new amputee, you may be feeling disheartened and frustrated. You need to focus on the future and keep your goals in mind. With positive thinking and a lot of effort on your part, you can live your best life with a prosthesis. Even though every day may not be what you expect over time you will become an experienced prosthesis user.

The experts at OP Centers are here to help and support you throughout your journey as you get accustomed to your prosthesis. We will assist you in living your life to the fullest potential.


What is Phantom Limb Pain and How to Deal With It

Phantom Limb Pain Management

There are many obstacles you will conquer following an amputation.   In the weeks and months following an amputation, you may feel certain sensations or pain in the area of your former limb.  This is referred to by doctors and amputees as phantom limb pain.  Phantom limb pain can be a serious issue because the resulting pain, burning, tingling, or aching following an amputation is very real, and can range from mild to severe pain.


Even though your limb is not there, the nerve endings remain at the amputation site.  These nerve endings can send pain signals to your brain which your brain then interprets as actual pain.  Your brain remembers the feelings in the limb that you have experienced even though the limb is still there.


You may feel mild to extreme pain in the area where your limb has been amputated.  Other symptoms may include sensations in the area such as tingling, cramping, hot or cold feelings.  Phantom limb pain includes any pain or feeling that the limb may have had prior to amputation.


Phantom limb pain can be difficult to treat.  With treatment, sensations and pain usually decrease or disappear altogether over a period of time.  However, pain that persists more than six months is likely to become chronic pain.  Even if the chronic pain of phantom limb pain cannot be totally eradicated, there are steps that you can take toward pain management that can lessen the sensation and give you relief from the discomfort. If phantom limb pain is present, a medical professional should be consulted to begin an effective pain management program.

There are 3 basic methods of treating phantom limb pain: medications, non-invasive therapy, and mildly invasive therapy.  Treatment success can be difficult and often treatments are combined to achieve the desired results.  Read the facts below and talk to your doctor to see which one is right for you.


Medications such as pain relievers, neuroleptics, beta-blockers, sodium channel blockers, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants are typically the first form of pain management attempted. These medications should only be used with the oversight of a treating physician.

Non-invasive therapy

Non-invasive treatments can include massage, physical therapy, heat therapy, relaxation techniques, counseling, and biofeedback techniques to attempt to draw the patient’s focus away from the pain and toward better sensations.

Mildly invasive therapy

There are a few more invasive options that can help ease or eliminate phantom limb pain.  Injections with local anesthetics or steroids, nerve blockers or surgery to remove scar tissue that may be entangling a nerve causing the pain are all possibilities if the pain is not helped via alternate treatments.  Another option called TENS, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, in the stump can stimulate nerves to help ease the pain.

Phantom limb pain may be a difficult obstacle to overcome following amputation surgery but there are several treatment options that may help ease pain or eliminate pain altogether.  Talk to your doctor today to discuss the various treatment options for your phantom limb pain.



Athletes with Prosthetics

An athletic lifestyle as an amputee is no different

Were you once an avid athlete prior to an amputation? Losing a limb is difficult for every amputee but can be especially frustrating for those who previously played sports. Being unable to compete in sporting activities can seem discouraging. However, just because you have a prosthesis does not mean that you have to stop participating. With the proper sport prosthesis designed for the specific activity you want to do you can get right back in the game. There are a variety of sport specific prosthetics that can help every amputee continue participating in athletic activities. There are many famous athletes with prosthetics. Read on to find out which prosthesis is right for you.

How do I choose the best prosthesis for my sport?

Every amputee is different. Whether it’s a leg, arm or hand, the first step to finding the best prosthesis for your sporting needs is to meet with an experienced prosthetist. This expert will help design a custom prosthesis for you as well as help you with the best choice for the sport you want to be involved in. There are limbs available for a large variety of activities such as swimming, basketball, cycling, running, fishing, skiing and many more.  Just about every activity, whether it be indoors, outdoors, high impact or low can be accomplished with the proper prosthesis.  With all of these options you will be able to continue your favorite sport.

What are bionic sports prosthetics?

If you are highly competitive and serious about your athletic activity, you may want to consider a bionic prosthetic. With highly advanced materials and responsiveness bionic prosthetics are a few notches above a non-bionic alternative. Bionic sports prosthetics are custom made to comply with sport specific regulations.  They are for the highly competitive athlete.   Bionic prosthetics function similar to the way your own bones and muscles respond to the activity you are performing.   Their focus is to imitate the limbs natural behavior allowing for maximum performance during athletic activities. Bionic prosthetics are not meant for everyone and it is best to discuss your options with an experienced prosthetist. Advancing technology provides athletes with prosthetics many options.

If you have been feeling left out of the game since your amputation you don’t have to sit on the sidelines another minute. Talk to your prosthetist at OP Centers. We can create a custom prosthesis that you can use to continue your favorite athletic activity.


Tips for Pediatric Orthotics

Tips for parents of pediatric orthotic patients

When you have a child in need of an ankle foot orthosis or AFO, it can be stressful trying to choose the best style and fit.  That is where we come in.  Our orthotist will help you and your child feel at ease from ordering to wearing pediatric orthotics.  At your appointment we will do a variety of things to achieve the proper fit, function and style.

During the appointment

We will begin by taking your child’s measurements to assure a custom fit.  You and your child will be able to choose the color and design of your custom orthosis.   With the variety of colors and patterns available, your child can choose an option that fits their unique personality.  There will also be samples on hand for you to look at. What to keep in mind for pediatric orthotics:

AFO choices you will be able to make:

  • The hard outer plastic shell color and design
  • Velcro color (if necessary)
  • Custom Transfers

Buying Shoes

An important part to wearing the AFO is a properly fitting shoe.  The shoe your child wears needs to be comfortable and secure so that your child continues wearing the AFO.  Depending on your child’s specific needs, your orthotist may order custom orthopedic shoes for you or you may be able to choose your own provided you bring them to the appointment and let the specialist determine if they will work best.  Here are some tips on selecting shoes for your child to wear with his or her AFO:

  • A shoe with a sole that is removable will create more room for the orthosis
  • For ease of brace fitting, shoes with an extended tongue and straps or ties work best
  • High tops or shoes with a higher ankle may better support the ankle but may not fit with the AFO
  • There are a variety of modern brands that are designed to fit with an AFO, check with your orthotist for a list

Shoe Tips

You may need to purchase two sizes of shoes to accommodate the two different foot sizes, one for the brace and one without. You should focus on finding the smallest shoe size that fits the orthosis.  Any shoe that is too large could create a tripping hazard.  Using a simple shoe horn will help getting the braced foot in the tight shoe.  If you opt for a canvas shoe, you may be able to snip a few threads on the tog to increase the ease of putting the shoe on.  Also, the non braced shoe may require an insert to create balance and assure that both legs are the same height.

Sock tips

The sock is the only barrier between the AFO, shoe and the skin.  There are socks that are purposely designed to be worn with AFO’s.  Socks that are moisture-wicking, wrinkle resistant and seamless work best.  Another feature to look for is a cotton blend; the socks need to be breathable yet hold their shape.

Getting support

Even though every child and family’s situation is unique, you are not alone in your journey.  A great way to feel more at ease with your situation is to connect with others who have similar challenges.  There are many support groups available for you and your child.  Your orthotist will be able to steer you in the right direction for meeting similar families.

When your child needs an AFO it can be stressful at first.  If you contact the professionals at OP Centers, our customized service and our experienced staff will guide you and your family every step of the way.


Run4Kayla Event 4-23-16

Run4Kayla is Southwest Florida’s only 5k event that gives those with special needs the spotlight, with a Duo Team (Special needs individual + pusher) 5k division front and center at the 5k start, and special Wheelchair Dash event.  We also have a very competitive 5k with great goodies and awards, as well as a 1 mile fun run for the kids, who all get medals!  All kids will have a great time getting their faces painted and meeting miniature horses, and we will have balloon artists.  You don’t want to miss this one of a kind, special event.
Please visit the website www.Run4Kayla.com for additional information.
Event held on April 23, 2016

LS Warriors Softball Event

Top Golf Event March 2016

OPC June Workshop – 8 CEU’s – Ft Myers

Orthotic and Prosthetic Workshop 8 CEU Credit Hours

PT’s, OT’s, & Nursing

Saturday June 25th, 2016 8am-3pm

Early registration Fee $50, after fee will be $60


                         Topics:                                                                               Speakers:

                            Outcome Measurements with Limb Loss                                         Ossur

                            Prosthetic Knee Gait Training                                                             Ossur                          

                            Upper Extremity Limb Loss and Rehab                                            Touch Bionics- i-Limb

                            FES- Functional Electrical Stimulation- UE & LE                             Bioness

                            S.W.A.S.H. and Lower Extremity Orthoses                                        Allard

 Join us at:

  Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport @ Town Center  9931 Interstate Commerce Center Drive Fort Myers, FL 33913

Check-In begins at 7:30

*To register please call 239-936-3736 *



Take I-75 to exit 128 Towards Germain Arena/SanCarlos Park

East on Alico Rd then Left onto Interstate Commerce Center Dr

**Lunch will be provided and Raffles throughout the day