Throughout the world, the major objective of prosthetics is to restore, as close as possible, the functional capacity formerly held by a limb deficient person, while attaining the best cosmetic result afforded to, and deemed necessary by the patient. On the surface, it would appear that there would be very little difference in the design and manufacture of prosthetic solutions with respect to the approaches taken by Western and third world countries.
However, availability of materials, resources and skilled personnel, together with a variety of cultural differences make third world prosthetics a subject in itself. This paper reviews the literature available on the subject, examines some different approaches to prosthetics in the third world, gives an overview of some materials and designs used for both upper and lower prosthetics, and considers adaptation for cultural differences.
It concludes that, while direct transfer of Western prosthetics technology is useful in the short term, for long term benefit to the poorer amputees in the third world, culture-specific designs and materials are more appropriate.