I?ve done your research and have found lots of interesting information
on prosthetic fingers. The state of the technology has come a long
Let?s start with a little background ---
The first priority in prosthetic fingers today is esthetics ? how they
look. The term for this is Anaplastology. Anaplastology is the art and
science of restoring the human anatomy in artificial materials.
Anaplastology differs from Prosthetics in that it emphasizes the
aesthetics or the appearance of the device.
Prosthetic fingers in the past have been rudimentary plastic (usually
PVC) digits. While manufactures attempted realistic-looking fingers,
usually the plastic-ness of them was readily apparent ? they were
slightly shiny and didn?t have the rich color and texture of normal
skin. In addition to their intrinsic plastic look, PVC fingers tended
to stain easily, irritate skin at the attachment point, and were hard
to the touch.
Today however we have silicone. Artificial fingers today are molded
from the patient?s existing fingers and are covered in a silicone
elastomer skin that is hand painted to match the patient?s exact skin
color ? right down to hairs and freckles.
SILICONE SKIN/FINGER FEATURES
** Extremely realistic looking
** Feels like soft tissue ? resilient, flexible
** Custom made for character and color including hair, freckles, wrinkles, etc
** Can be made to fit any level of amputation including multiple fingers
** Very durable: resistant to stains, heat, cold, and sun exposure.
** Lifespan 3-5 years depending on wear
** Easily repaired
** Replacement prosthetics can be made from existing molds
** Fingernails can be painted
** Easily removed and applied
** Special ?tanning? chemicals can be used to match seasonal changes.
** Non-allergenic; skin reactions rare.
** Can be made ?bendable? (see FUNCTIONALITY)
It appears that individual fingers cannot (or are not) made to be what
we would consider fully functional. They are not myoelectric. They
will not bend or grip when the wearer attempts to move those tendons
controlling the finger. Myoelectric fingers (usually just thumb and
forefinger) are built into entire artificial hands and are controlled
above the wrist, but are not supplied as individual fingers.
However, some prosthetic finger manufacturers do add features (usually
wire or springs) that allow the wearer to bend the fingers (using the
other hand) in order to position them for particular task, for example
Dr. Jane Bahor at Duke University has come up with an innovative idea.
She is experimenting with putting the joints found in bendable
Barbie?s knees into artificial fingers.
Duke Medical News: Barbie
I?ve provided a link the Duke University Prosthetic Services Dept in
the RESOURCES section below.
It should be noted that while most prosthetic fingers do not have true
functionality, the mere presence of a replacement finger ? even if
static -- can hugely enhance the user?s hand functionality.
Additionally, having an artificial finger that is indistinguishable
from the rest of the fingers goes a long way towards enhancing the
user?s self confidence.
According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, work on a
finger or partial hand prosthesis usually begins three months after
the patient is completely healed from surgery. This allows for
swelling to go down and the hand to be fully healed. However, other
websites caution not to wait too long because patients quickly begin
to compensate for the loss of fingers by using the other hand or other
fingers, thus making retraining for the use of artificial fingers more
What I found was that there seem to be two avenues of purchase for
artificial fingers. You can either buy them from the manufacturing
companies (either in person or by mail) or you can go to a hospital or
licensed Anaplastologist and have them fitted there.
I personally would be a bit hesitant to purchase by mail. Not that the
companies don?t produce good products. They do! In fact several of the
mail-order companies supply fingers or skin covering to the hospitals
and practitioners. It?s that I would be concerned about the fit of the
prosthetic and the exact match to my skin. I?d be more comfortable
having a doctor do the fitting professionally.
None of the websites give prices but I imagine these artificial
fingers aren?t cheap since each one is custom-made and painted by
hand. However, most of the companies and hospitals indicate that
insurance usually covers the cost of artificial fingers.
Your friend should check with his insurance company. If he is not
insured, here is an organization that might be able to help him:
LIMBS FOR LIFE
?Our goal is to provide a financial bridge between low-income amputees
and the quality prosthetic care needed to restore their lives. Since
the foundation began in 1995, we have helped about 700 amputees a year
obtain the prosthetic care that enabled them to move forward.?
Find an Anaplastologist here:
American Anaplastology Association: Directory
DUKE UNIVERSITY Prosthetic Services / Anaplastology
Anaplastologists work as members of a rehabilitation team with
Prosthetists/Orthotists, Physician Associates, Occupational Hand
Therapists, Psychologists and our world renowned staff of surgeons to
create the best possible treatment outcome for patients.
Finger prostheses can be made in lifelike silicone rubber to look
amazingly like the other digits of your hand
Prosthetic Services / Anaplastology
Clinics in: Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto and Middletown, New York.
Practitioners throughout North America and worldwide
Makes its own prostheses as well as silicone skin coverings that can
go over prostheses made by other companies.
?Patients can contact network of trained practitioners at hundreds of
our locations throughout North America and elsewhere in the world.
Patients DO NOT need to come to our office to get a LIVINGSKIN
?Patients have the option to sit with the artists while having their
high definition custom silicone prostheses painted to match their
unique skin color.?
ALATHEIA PROSTHETICS ; Dermatos Prostheses
?The inside of the [finger] prosthesis if filled with a semi-soft
silicone which is formed around the remaining portion of the finger.
This formed silicone cradles the residual finger allowing vibration
from the tip of the prosthesis to transfer to the nerves of the
residual finger. This vibration transfer allows wearers to feel like
the prosthesis is an extension of themselves- rather than a foreign
?Dermatos® prosthetic devices are available in hundreds of cities
throughout the nation as well as numerous locations worldwide. If you
are interested in being evaluated for a Dermatos® prosthesis or any
service Alatheia provides, the first step is to contact us at our home
office. You may contact us via phone, fax, e-mail, or post mail. Once
we discuss your case with you, and qualify you as a candidate, we can
than determine which treatment and location will be best for you.?
GENESIS PROSTHETIC ARTS
?David Van Auker, M.A., C.P. is a board certified prosthetist and
anaplastologist with over 16 years of experience, fitting the some of
the broadest range of prostheses available anywhere in the nation!?
?Some of my patients travel for their care, from as far away as the
east and west coasts. This requires a stay of anywhere from 5- 14 days
depending on what is being made for them.?
Genesis Prosthetic Arts
BLOORVIEW MACMILLAN CHILDREN?S CENTRE, Prosthetic and Orthotic Services
Affiliated with the University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario Canada
(serves people of all ages)
?You will participate directly with the prosthetist and silicone
specialist who fit and fabricate your silicone prosthesis and can
benefit by involving yourself in the colour matching and detailing
choices as well as saving valuable time.?
?Customized acrylic shaped nails are achieved from modelling the sound
side. Pigment is integrated into the silicone matching the subtlety of
skin tones, incorporating shades for knuckle lines, creases and adding
life-like details such as veins and freckles.?
Bloorview MacMillan Children?s Centre
CUSTOM PROSTHETIC LTD
?Sharon Haggerty, M.A.M.S., located her current practice in Seattle,
Washington, in 1995. ?.providing custom facial and somato silicone
prosthetic restorations for patients in the Pacific Northwest,
including Alaska, and British Columbia.?
?..three to five appointments are needed to complete a custom-designed prosthesis.?
CUSTOM PROSTHETIC LTD
DE LA TORRE ORTHOTICS AND PROSTHETICS
Serving Pittsburgh, Ohio, and West Virginia
Manufactures devices ? appears to be sold only through hospitals.
?The division of Anaplastology, the manufacture of lifelike, cosmetic
prosthetic items, continues to grow. Watch this site for exciting
developments in our providing this service.?
De La Torre Orthotics and Prosthetics ? Prosthetic Devices
ARTECH: HANDS AND FINGERS
[Good description of fitting and manufacturing process on this site,
but little or no information on the company, background, location, or
contact information. Location discerned from area code of fax number
and articles found online. ]
Artech: Hands and Fingers
Some info here:
? ARTech Laboratory, Inc., in Midlothian, Texas, makes only the
customized skin coverings that go over the prosthetic limb. Mike Holt,
the company?s president and co-owner, says the company also uses a
?About 80 percent of our business is done through the mail using
photographs,? Holt says. ?We work directly with prosthetists and find
that the photograph system works exceptionally well.?
Skin-to-Skin Match? Product Advances Make It Possible, by Christina DiMartino
AMERICAN MEDICAL PROSTHETICS & ORTHOTICS (AMP)
Van Nuys, CA
[Little information on this website.]
?..a full service patient care company that provides all levels of
prosthetic and orthotic devices.?
American Medical Prosthetics & Orthotics (AMP)
American Society for Surgery of the Hand : Amputation of the Hand or
Finger and Prosthetics
Options for Finger Prostheses by John W. Michael, MEd, CPO and Horst
Buckner, MDT, CDT
I trust that covers all of the information your friend should need in
order to replace his lost fingers with something esthetic,
comfortable, and useful.
Let me know if anything I?ve said isn?t clear and I?ll be happy to
clarify it for you.
Thanks for your question,
Bendable prosthetic fingers
Movable prosthetic fingers
Myoelectric prosthetic fingers