Amputee Lingo

What does that mean?  If you’re new to the amputee world, it can be daunting trying to keep up with all the ‘lingo’.  In fact even if you’re not so new, sometimes you’ll hear words and not be entirely sure of their meaning.  Here’s some of the common words and abbreviations you might see or hear.

Amputation Terms

AK – Would relate to an Above Knee Amputee (R or L is often added to the beginning depending if you’re amputated on your left or right side E.g. RAK would be Right Above Knee)

BK – Below Knee (Again R or L could be added depending on which side your amputation is on)

Bi-Lateral Amp – Someone who has both legs amputated

Transfemoral – When the amputation is above the knee

Transtibial – When the amputation is below the knee

Disarticulation – This is when the amputation is through a joint. Most commonly the hip or knee.

Prosthetist, Prosthetic, Prosthesis… These 3 words often have people confused! Your prosthetist is the person who fits you with the prosthesis. And as an amputee writing this, I still find the difference between Prosthetic and Prosthesis confusing! Technically a Prosthetic refers to the formal process of creating the limb. Prosthesis is the end product made to replace your missing limb. From experience, most amputees would refer to their new leg as their prosthetic, however, your prosthetist is more likely to refer to it as a prosthesis. Clear as mud!


A shrinker sock (also sometimes known as Juzo Compression Stocking) is made of elastic material and designed to help control swelling of the residual limb or o shrink it in preparation for a prosthetic fitting.


The socket is the part of the prosthesis where you put your residual limb into. The socket is made of plastic and is designed to fit your residual limb as comfortably as possible.

Suspension Systems

Suspension systems are designed to hold the socket on the stump. There are various designs including; pelvic bands, belts and liners. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages. Individual preference will also be considered when choosing a particular suspension system for the prosthesis.


Liners are the base layer which goes on your residual limb. They act as a suspension system which is used to hold your prosthetic in place and provide additional comfort and protection of the residual limb when walking. These liners are often made of a silicon, pelite, or gel substance and there are different styles depending on your level of amputation. A couple of examples are below:

Shuttle Lock (Pin Lock): A mechanism that has a locking pin attached to the distal end of the liner, which locks or suspends the residual limb into the socket

Suction Liner: This liner holds the prosthetic in place by forcing air out of the socket through a one-way valve when putting the prosthetic on. A button is then used to let the air back in when you want to remove it.


Sleeves are sometimes used by below knee amputees. They go over the socket and roll up your thigh. They are another way of creating suction to hold the prosthetic in place.


Stubbies are used by double amputees. They are shortened prosthetics which are helpful for people to learn to walk, without the fear or falling from a higher height. They are also helpful for learning balance and stability before using other, sometimes more advanced prosthetics.

Foam Cover

Some people prefer to have the metal pole (shank) of the prosthetic covered over. This is usually done using a foam cover to make the body of the prosthetic more ‘leg shaped’.