Prosthetics fall within the broad category of assistive devices that people use to support what they want to do. Assistive devices, in general, enhance such capacities as mobility and agility, sensory apprehension, communication, and cognitive action. But the field of prosthetics, in particular, refers to those artificial body parts, devices, and materials that are integrated into the body’s daily routines. Because “prosthetics,” as a term, encompasses the way people select hardware, undergo procedures, and understand the results, there is no one immutable definition for it.

Prosthetics runs the range of detachable, wearable, implanted, or integrated body parts and may be functional, cosmetic, decorative, or hidden. It covers a wide range of components: from familiar designs such as peg legs, split-hook hands, and myoelectric limbs that yoke nerve signals from remaining muscles, to artificial skin, replaced hip joints, eyeglasses, hearing aids, strap-on penises, and reconstructed bones. Some prosthetics use sensory feedback, …

This essay may be found on page 140 of the printed volume.

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