Limb Loss at the Shoulder

Although amputations at the shoulder (shoulder disarticulation) are rare, the most common causes are surgery to remove cancer or infection and trauma. This type of amputation is complex—it involves removing the entire arm and upper arm bone from the shoulder blade and collarbone—which is why it is important to think about your functional and mobility goals as early as you possibly can following surgery. This will help your care team determine the best possible treatment plan for you while helping set expectations about the journey ahead.

Finding a Prosthetist

If you determine that a prosthesis is the right solution for you, finding an experienced upper limb prosthetist near your home is extremely important. We have a network of upper limb specialists across the United States who focus on complex cases like shoulder disarticulation. Our team will evaluate and fit you close to home, and our rehabilitation specialists will work with your local therapy team.

Selecting a Prosthesis

Discuss options with your clinician, as there are many prosthetic options designed to meet varying functional needs. Depending on your desired goals, your prosthetist will recommend one of six upper limb prosthetic types: no prosthesis, passive, body-powered, myoelectric, hybrid, or activity-specific. No matter which one you choose, you will need the same types of components, including a socket, suspension, elbow, wrist, and terminal device (most often a hand or hook).

Because upper limb prostheses have several parts, everything must work together seamlessly. The process takes time, so be patient with yourself and reach out for support when you need it. Your prosthetist will be with you every step of the way, along with your doctors, therapists, family, and friends, but the support of peers who have experienced similar challenges is particularly integral to the healing process. Peer support allows you to find hope as well as suggestions and advice from those who have been through it before.

Learn More About Prosthetic Options >

Prosthetic Elbows >

Prosthetic Hooks & Hands >

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