Manufacturers categorise prosthetic feet by the user’s activity level – also called mobility grade. This means that not every prosthetic foot can be used by every user. Selecting a prosthesis that matches your activity level will maximise your mobility and your quality of life. Here are some very basic indications for identifying your activity level. If you are on the border between two activity levels, your Prosthetist will consider multiple products to assess the one that is best for you.
Activity Level 1
The amputee has the ability or the potential to use the prosthesis for transfers or for the purpose of moving slowly on level floors. The amount of time and the distance the amputee can walk are seriously limited due to his or her condition.
Restoring the ability to stand and to walk indoors to a limited degree.
Activity Level 2
The amputee has the ability or the potential to walk slowly with the prosthesis and to negotiate low environmental obstacles like curbs, single steps or uneven surfaces. The amount of time and the distance the amputee can walk are seriously limited due to his or her condition.
Restoring the ability to stand and walk both indoors and outdoors.
Activity Level 3
The amputee has the ability or the potential to walk with the prosthesis at a medium to high speed as well as at different speeds and simultaneously overcome most natural obstacles. He or she is also capable of walking outdoors and engaging in professional, therapeutic and other activities that do not subject the prosthesis to above-average mechanical strain. There may be an increased need for safety due to secondary circumstances (additional disability, special living conditions) combined with medium to high mobility demands. The amount of time and the distance the patient can walk are only mildly restricted compared to individuals without disabilities.
Restoring the ability to stand and to walk indoors and outdoors with only mild restrictions.
Activity Level 4
The amputee's ability or potential to walk with a prosthesis is similar to that of the unrestricted outdoor walker. The amount of time and walking distance are not limited. Moreover, due to the high functional demands, a high degree of shock, tension and distortion can occur.
Restoring the ability to stand, walk and move about both indoors and outdoors without any limitations.
Prosthetic feet are designed for a specific weight range. To ensure that a prosthetic foot performs well for you, your Prosthetist will choose one suited to your weight class.
Prosthetic feet vary in height. We call the height of a prosthetic foot build height. Your height and the length of your residual limb as a below knee amputee will determine the space you have for a prosthetic foot and what is the appropriate build height for the prosthetic foot. As an above knee amputee, the length of the prosthetic knee joint will be an additional factor to consider for the build height of the prosthetic foot.
Like human feet, prosthetic feet differ in length/size. Prosthetic feet are sized by cm rather than standard shoe sizes. Every foot is available in a specific range of sizes. There are prosthetic feet that come in sizes for children while others are even sized for large adults. Ottobock running blades and speciality sports feet often have a a single size.
Apart from all the technical selection criteria, your Prosthetist will keep in mind your personal needs, living situation and goals when choosing a prosthetic foot for you. These factors might be the desire to participate in sports activities or the ability to paint your toenails. These are of great importance because your prosthetic foot should feel like an extension of yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
The prosthetic fitting can be done at your local NHS or private prosthetic clinic. More information about our private clinics can be found here.
Together with you, your Prosthetist will choose the prosthetic foot that best fits your individual habits, preferences and needs – based on your amputation level, mobility grade, your lifestyle and further criteria. The better informed you are during this process, the better you can tell your Prosthetist what you really need and the more actively you can participate in your fitting. But be sure that your prosthetist will always choose what’s best for you.
What if I realise after some time that I don't feel comfortable with the prosthetic foot?
Yes, you can test different prosthetic feet. Many clinics offer trial fittings, just talk to your Prosthetist. The trial fitting takes place over a predetermined period of time.
60 day satisfaction guarantee – We’re so confident that you’ll be satisfied with the Taleo foot range, that if you decide you’re not happy, we will happily take the foot back, no questions asked!
Some prosthetic feet are available free through the NHS, if you are getting treatment through a legal case the insurance may cover the costs. If neither of these options are suitable for you then you may need to purchase the foot through a private clinic.
Some prosthetic feet are waterproof. Others are not. Some are fully waterproof against fresh, salt and chlorinated water, while others might only be weatherproof. It depends on the prosthetic foot. If it is important for you to have a prosthetic foot that is waterproof, please talk to your Prosthetist to find the best solution for you.
In general no. Our prosthetic feet are delivered with a footshell that is based on the shape of a natural foot so that it is possible to wear most common types of shoes. Many foot sizes come in both a slim and normal version to match your natural foot as closely as possible. Some feet and footshells have a split between the big toe and second toe that makes it possible to wear flip flops. The Meridium prosthetic foot even features automatic heel height adjustment.
Most of our prosthetic feet provide you with support for a wide range of everyday activities. Some are also perfectly suitable for occasional light sports activities such as badminton or playing frisbee. However, if you want to engage in regular and demanding physical activities or sports that involve running or jumping, an Ottobock sports foot might be more appropriate.
With some prosthetic feet it is possible to walk around barefoot for short periods indoors. Your Prosthetist will give you useful advice.
This depends on what kind of prosthetic foot you have. Our carbon and sports feet don’t need regular service. Our Empower and Meridium mechatronic feet have to be serviced every two years. During this time, you will get a loaner foot.
Prosthetic feet are tested to two million gait cycles per ISO standards. Depending on your activity level and how much you use your prosthesis, we recommend replacing the prosthetic foot every 2-3 years.