Form or function: What’s most important to you?

When you and your O&P professional set out to find the most suitable prosthetic leg for you, you’ll face some tough choices together. One of these choices will be between form and function, but how do you choose between the two?

Please note that your O&P professional knows you best and will know exactly which options are most suitable for you and your situation. Always discuss your options with them for optimal results.

Form or function

Lots of you want your prosthetic leg to resemble a ‘normal’ leg as closely as possible in terms of both form and function. In other words, you’d like your leg to look like a leg (form) and do what a ‘normal’ leg can do: extend, bend, walk, cycle, run and dance (function).


Why choose? 

Modern-day prosthetic legs offer myriad options and bespoke solutions tailored to your needs and wishes are becoming increasingly common. However, form and function do not always go hand in hand. If you have your heart set on a lifelike leg, you’ll probably have to compromise on function. If, on the other hand, you want a prosthesis that can do virtually anything a human leg can, it probably won’t look very lifelike.

For more information, read our article: ‘Prosthetic knee replacement: what you should consider’.


Your needs and wishes

When you meet up with your O&P professional to discuss your future prosthesis, they’ll ask you about your needs and wishes. What would you like to do with your prosthesis? What are your short- and long-term goals? But also: what would you like your prosthesis to look like? Do you dislike being seen wearing an prosthesis, or are you proud?

Your answers to these questions will determine which option is best for you. After all, there are solutions for almost all needs and wishes. Sometimes, however, certain needs can be incompatible, which is why it is so important to carefully weigh your options.

Function over form

For many people who have undergone a leg amputation, the function of their prosthesis comes first. This is especially true for people with an active lifestyle who can’t wait to get back to walking, cycling, running or dancing. These people need an advanced knee joint that approximates the human leg as closely as possible in terms of function, the most advanced of which are computerised. These prostheses - also known as microprocessor-controlled knees or MPKs - use sensors to constantly record the user’s movements. This movement data is then used to automatically adjust the MPK several times a second. This may sound very complicated, but in practice it simply means that users do not have to think about every step they take. Thanks to innovative technology, MPKs often have many features that more basic alternatives do not, with some enabling users to cycle, run and even ski!

Read more about osseointegration and a microprocessor-controlled knee.


What about looks? 

Microprocessor-controlled knees generally look very modern - or even futuristic - due to the materials used (a lot of metal!) and sleek lines. While the shape of the prosthesis resembles that of a human calf, MPKs look nothing like a human leg, although users can opt for many different covers, caps and foam pads. Nevertheless, these advanced prosthetic knee-joints will never look entirely lifelike.


Show off your prosthesis!

In the past, people preferred to conceal their disability, but, fortunately, things have now changed for the better. Today, you can proudly show off everything you are capable of doing! That’s why more and more people with a prosthesis enjoy showing theirs off to the rest of the world. And what could be cooler than a high-tech prosthesis? If you abandon the notion that a prosthesis should look like a human leg, you’re left with an infinite number of options and countless ways to personalise your prosthesis with a fashionable cover. Why not take a look at UNYQ ’s website? And for inspiration, check out model Paola Antonini’s Instagram account .

Form over function

Some amputees opt against a prosthesis, such as people who will not be able to learn how to walk again due to illness or age, and prefer using a wheelchair.

Losing your leg is a profound and taxing experience, so struggling with life without a leg is more than understandable. But what if you don’t need a prosthesis to walk?

One option is to get a silicone prosthesis, a prosthesis that looks lifelike but is usually not functional. In other words, you can’t lean on it or walk with it. Silicone prostheses are custom made to fit your body type and skin colour perfectly, and they are usually modelled after your other leg, if you still have one. Nowadays, silicone limbs can even be adorned with lifelike veins, freckles and nails. You can opt to have a silicone prosthesis made for your leg, but silicone feet and front-feet are also possible. In some cases, the latter two options can be partly functional. 

Learn more about the 3 types of liners for leg prostheses.


What about function?

So, a silicone prosthesis is usually non-functional and will not allow you to walk. However, they are still a viable option if you are in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. The silicone prosthesis will do a good job of hiding the fact that you have undergone an amputation, which might just give you the added confidence you need.


What about a microprocessor-controlled prosthesis?

Are advanced prostheses only suitable for active users? Absolutely not! Microprocessor-controlled prosthetic limbs are also a great option for people with reduced mobility due to illness or age. They are very safe and allow for considerable independence, even during rehabilitation. Head over to this page on the Kenevo prosthetic knee joint , which was specially developed for people who have additional safety needs.