Confirm your location

Confirm you location or select from a list of countries in order to get in touch with your local Ottobock market. We will make sure you´re redirected to your selected site in the future so you´ll always be in the right place.

Two women in front of an easel. One is holding a pencil in her bebionic prosthetic hand and taking a selfie. The other woman is watching from the background.
What to know

Prosthetic arms and hands

Explore the different types, and all the ways these special devices can empower people at home, at work, and throughout their daily life.

Explore the different types, and all the ways these special devices can empower people at home, at work, and throughout their daily life.

About prosthetic arms and hands

What are prosthetic arms and hands and how they work?

A prosthetic arm and hand are devices used to support users who are missing part or all of their upper limb or limbs, including fingers, hand, arm, elbow, or shoulder. Due to an injury, illness, or congenital limb difference. Sometimes called upper limb prostheses, these devices come in many different forms, from cosmetic silicone hands to high-tech bionic hands that mimic many different hand movements.

Upper limb prostheses can empower people with limb differences in many different ways. They can help users regain their mobility and independence, pursue their favorite hobbies and activities, get back to their jobs, and improve their overall quality of life. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of prosthetic hands, how they work, and how they support a wide range of daily activities.

Key benefits

What can a prosthetic arm or hand do for you?

While prosthetic arms and hands cannot fully replace a natural limb, they can support users in many different and valuable ways. The right device can help restore someone’s independence and mobility, help them master everyday tasks, get back to their job, or simply help regain body confidence.

People use these capable tools for many reasons. Some prosthetic arms and hands come with special features, like grippers and hooks, that can assist with specific tasks. More advanced devices are often designed to look and move more like the human hand.

In addition to physical support, these devices can also support users emotionally and psychologically, helping users adapt to life after limb loss, rebuild their confidence, and improve their self-esteem.

Common types

Three main kinds of prosthetic arms and hands

These devices typically come in three different forms: cosmetic or “passive” devices, body-powered devices, and myoelectric devices. Each type of device has its own unique functions and abilities.

All three types can support users in different ways, depending on the user’s needs, their goals and activities, and the size, shape, and location of their residual limb. The right choice for each user can depend on all these factors, and many others that a certified professional prosthetist (O&P professional) can help explain.

Closer look

Cosmetic prosthetic arms and hands

Designed to provide a natural-looking appearance, this type of prosthesis is popular with users who want their device to look as natural and “normal” as possible. Cosmetic prostheses can be built to match each person’s skin tone, gender, and physical characteristics, making them as realistic-looking as possible.

Unlike other types of prostheses, though, cosmetic prostheses usually do not offer hand-like functionality. They’re typically designed to look like a normal hand, not function like one.

Despite this limitation, many people with limb differences find that wearing a cosmetic prosthetic helps them feel more comfortable and confident in social situations.

3066154-2584075

Body-powered prosthetic arms and hands

This common type of prosthetic device gives people the ability to control their replacement by making specific movements with their shoulders, chest, or residual limb. This type of prosthetic typically uses cables, pulleys, and a specialized harness to operate the prosthetic hand or arm.

These prostheses are known for their durability and strength, making them suitable for grasping and lifting objects and handling other heavy-duty everyday activities.

While they may require more physical effort to operate than some prostheses, body-powered devices also provide a cost-effective option for users who want a simple, reliable, and sturdy prosthetic limb.

2617037

Myoelectric prosthetic hands

These devices are the most advanced and versatile prosthetic hands available today. Sometimes called “bionic” hands, myoelectric prostheses are controlled by the user’s own muscle signals and powered by a battery. Electrodes on the skin of their residual limb can pick up nerve impulses from the user’s muscles and use them to control the motors in the prosthetic hand.

Myoelectric hands offer precise and versatile control over a wide range of finger movements and grip patterns, making it easy to perform many different activities. These high-tech prostheses are also functional and stylish, showcasing cutting-edge prosthetic technology while supporting important everyday activities.

Ottobock offers several different myoelectric prostheses, including bebionic, Michelangelo, and MyoHand VariPlus Speed. Each has its own unique functionality and cutting-edge design.

3105348
4935204
Myoelectric hand

bebionic

The most lifelike, multi-articulating bebionic hand works intuitively and precisely in ways that are transforming the lives and abilities of amputees around the world.

The most lifelike, multi-articulating bebionic hand works intuitively and precisely in ways that are transforming the lives and abilities of amputees around the world.

Michelangelo prosthetic hand
Myoelectric hand

Michelangelo

Lightweight, powerful, and fast, the Michelangelo hand aims to restore numerous functions of the natural hand in a sophisticated and intelligent design.

Lightweight, powerful, and fast, the Michelangelo hand aims to restore numerous functions of the natural hand in a sophisticated and intelligent design.

MyoBock prosthetic hand
Myoelectric hand

MyoHand VariPlus Speed

The VariPlus Sensor Hand combines a quick-disconnect wrist with the mechanical characteristics of the SensorHand Speed and the control of the System Electric Greifer DMC VariPlus.

The VariPlus Sensor Hand combines a quick-disconnect wrist with the mechanical characteristics of the SensorHand Speed and the control of the System Electric Greifer DMC VariPlus.

Education and resources

More information on prosthetic arms and hands

Ready to keep exploring? Discover the inspiration, community, and products you need for life with a prosthetic device.

A diverse group of amputees enjoy each others company while wearing various custom bionic hand products
Share stories

Life with a bionic hand

Learn tips and tricks from Ottobock prosthetic hand users and share your own stories and life hacks.

Learn tips and tricks from Ottobock prosthetic hand users and share your own stories and life hacks.

Training in the use of upper limb prosthesis
Gain confidence

Living with an arm amputation

Learn about different arm amputations, how to take care of prostheses and residual limbs, and more.

Learn about different arm amputations, how to take care of prostheses and residual limbs, and more.

Want to know more? Contact us using the form below.