Living with an upper- or lower-limb prosthesis: The material remaking of the body through the prosthesis’s presence and absence
Keywords:amputation, prosthetic devices, presence/absence, embodiment, materiality, representation
Prostheses are complex, ambivalent, and non-uniform objects. Even before it “exists” as a material entity, the prosthesis, and more specifically the future body-prosthesis relation, is already present in one’s amputation and rehabilitation trajectory. It is indeed integrated by healthcare professionals in amputation surgical protocols as well as during care in the pre-fitting rehabilitation phase. Not there yet, it still shapes, materially, amputees’ bodies. Likewise, while amputees wait for its arrival, the prosthesis is an object they imagine and possibly fantasise about. Then, once manufactured and materially present, prostheses become part of a long, uncertain, and ever-changing process of creating a body-prosthesis alliance. Spanning from rehabilitation to daily-life at home, this process oscillates between adaptation and dis-adaptation, embodiment and rejection, capacities and limitations, hopes and disappointments.
Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted with amputees and healthcare professionals in France, the purpose of this article is to delve into amputees’ daily experiences, in order to grasp the complexity of the alliance that is woven between amputees’ bodies and prostheses over time. More precisely, we will use the dialectic of absence and presence as a guide for our analysis, since these two notions are enlightening to understand the complex embodiment and collaboration between the amputee, his/ her body, and his/her prosthesis. They shed light on the temporalities, the spaces, and the issues of the body-prosthesis relationship in the process of embodiment and appropriation throughout the life course.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Lucie Dalibert, Valentine Gourinat, Paul-Fabien Groud
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.