Category Archives: work

The most interesting and unusual prosthetic project to date – Hemicorporectomy

This is a bit of a departure from the SCD posts I normally write –
In my bio/about page, I admit to being a prosthetic resident. I’m not big on talking about the really personal happenings, but today I’m making an exception.

For the past month or two, I’ve been working on a really unusual project. I’m sure if I worked in prosthetics for the next 20years, I would never see this again.

One of our patients is amputated below the waist; the technical term is hemicorporectomy. The patient was a heavy equipment operator and accidentally hit an underground wire while digging. All of the limbs were damaged and the patient now has use of the left arm (only 4 fingers). The patient uses a myoelectric prosthetic arm on the right side and sits in a ‘bucket’ with cosmetic legs.

My project has been to fabricate a new bucket and design/construct a new frame for support. The bucket materials were all ready decided from previous experience (Allard – 3Dlite). However, I had freedom to design a completely new frame (the old frame was plastic). I immediately thought of the old-school orthotic back braces (knight/taylor/williams styles)
(copied from

These braces were fabricated from aluminum bar stock and wrapped with leather. This was way before all the different plastics became available.

We didn’t want something that was too cumbersome for the family to deal with and it had to be airy/breathable. I fabricated this frame from 2″x1/8″ aluminum bar stock. All metal was bent by hand and copper rivets secure the different pieces. The metal was covered by leather to (hide all my notes) protect the bucket and patient’s clothing. All the edges were covered in foam to protect the patient’s skin.

Anyways. Here are a couple photos of the progression of the device. More can be found in my Flicker account (link in sidebar).
Plaster mold with trimlinesMold with anterior trimlines finishedAddition of circumferential pelvic supportAhh! Balanced!Bucket in frame with legsClothed! Its amazing how realistic it looks!

It was such a relief to see it balanced and sitting on the bench! The patient is very pleased with the stability, as it is imperative for safety during mobility in the electric wheelchair.

The patient used the bucket for a week or so. I picked it up from them yesterday to make a couple adjustments. Today was spent shaping and covering the new cosmetic legs. They attach via pin lock to the frame. Hopefully they will be as pleased with the new system as I am! We will deliver this again tomorrow…

This has definitely been an exercise in patience and creativity – and VERY rewarding! I guess you could say it falls under nourishing for the soul