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Artificial substitute for a missing part of the body, usually an arm or leg. Prostheses have evolved from wooden legs and hooks that replaced hands to sophisticated plastic, fibreglass, and metal devices designed to fit limbs amputated at different points. They may have working joints and allow motion either by amplification of electric current generated by muscle contractions or by actual attachment to the muscles. Arm prostheses usually allow some degree of grasping and manipulation. External or implanted breast prostheses are used after mastectomy.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on prosthesis, visit Britannica.com.