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 of devices and their capabilities to empower people at home, at work, and throughout their daily life.

Explore the different types of devices and their capabilities to empower people at home, at work, and throughout their daily life.

About prosthetic arms and hands

What they are and how they work

Prosthetic arms and hands are devices designed to support users who are missing part of a hand or arm. They can be used by individuals who have lost a limb due to an injury, accident, or illness, and also by people who have a limb difference due to a congenital condition.

Sometimes called “upper limb prostheses,” these devices come in many forms: from simple and natural-looking "passive" hands to high-tech "bionic” hands that mimic many different hand movements. Keep reading to understand the various types of prosthetic hands, how they work, and how they support a wide range of daily activities.

Key benefits

What a prosthetic arm or hand can 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 them look and feel natural.

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 (CPO) 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 life-like 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 natural 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.

A certified prosthetist orthotist tries to color match material with a patient's skin tone

Body-powered prosthetic arms and hands

This common type of prosthetic device gives people the ability to control their placement 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.

A prosthetic hand user assembles his artificial arm

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 possible to perform various 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.

A prosthetic hand user reaches to grab a cup from a child
A produced image of the myoelectric prosthetic hand, the bebionic
Myoelectric hand

bebionic

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

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

A produced image of the myoelectric prosthetic hand by Ottobock, the Michelangelo
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.

A produced image of the Ottobock-manufactured prosthetic hand, MyoHand VariPlus Speed
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.

Finding the right fit

Getting a prosthetic leg or foot

When it comes to prosthetic legs, keep in mind that no two users need the same solution. Every prosthetic leg should be customized for the person who will be using it.

The right prosthetic leg will depend on a variety of factors, including the person's limb difference, lifestyle, and preferred activities. Creating the right prosthetic solution is a team effort, involving the user, their doctor or surgeon, their physical therapist, and especially a certified prosthetist/orthotist (CPO).

A CPO is a clinical professional with specialized training in designing and fitting prosthetic legs. This expert works with you and your care team to identify the right set of prosthetic leg components, and then custom-build a socket that keeps you comfortable, safe, and active.

Your CPO will also be able to explain the fitting and training process, as well as how to properly care for your prosthetic leg on a daily basis. With the help of a CPO, you can feel confident that you're getting the right device for your needs.

Want to connect with a CPO who can help you find the right prosthetic leg? Click below to find a clinic near you.

A bilateral amputee getting fitted for prosthetic legs by a CPO
A bilateral amputee getting fitted for prosthetic legs by a CPO
Education and resources

More information on prosthetic legs

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

A prosthetic user wearing the Ottobock-manufactured Genium X3
Deep dive

Explore our microprocessor-controlled knees

Read more about the innovation behind Ottobock’s cutting-edge microprocessor knees (MPKs), and meet the four devices that have set the global standard for this technology.

Read more about the innovation behind Ottobock’s cutting-edge microprocessor knees (MPKs), and meet the four devices that have set the global standard for this technology.

A prosthetic foot being built
Deep dive

Understand the value of a prosthetic foot

Get a complete overview of a prosthetic foot, including finding a foot that suits you, mobility grades, Ottobock’s cutting edge prosthetic foot portfolio, and FAQs.

Get a complete overview of a prosthetic foot, including finding a foot that suits you, mobility grades, Ottobock’s cutting edge prosthetic foot portfolio, and FAQs.

A prosthetic hand and a biological hand grasp each other with the little finger
Connect with others

Find community with Movao

Join a platform where amputees and their loved ones can connect locally and globally with like-minded people about similar interests and challenges.

Join a platform where amputees and their loved ones can connect locally and globally with like-minded people about similar interests and challenges.