Professionals change the way they determine prosthetic arm success

November 1, 2012

Topic: orthopaedics

Professionals change the way they determine prosthetic arm success

Researchers from Brown University are currently looking into a new method to measure how well a person with a prosthetic arm is progressing through the training of their new limb. This is an area of orthopaedic research that has previously been inconsistent, and improvements can help professionals teach patients how to perform everyday tasks without compensation.

Although prosthetics give patients an opportunity to resume a normal life after losing a limb, it's not something that can be easily picked up and immediately used successfully. The arm performs a multitude of activities and, when replaced, all of these tasks need to be relearned.

Currently, there are standardized methods for clinicians to assess the speed, performance and skill of a patient's prosthetic arm while doing 18 everyday activities, such as removing a shirt, pouring a drink, trying shoes and using a spoon. What these assessments don't take into consideration is how an affected individual compensates to make up for the prosthetic arm with other body parts, instead of using the artificial limb alone.

The new measures involve using two different professionals to independently assess the patient, and seeing if they both arrive at the same performance conclusions. In addition, the grading criteria was adjusted to accommodate what kind of prosthetic limb an individual had.

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