Anchor System Keeps Prosthetic Power on Same Side

  Debi Latour
  Debi Latour

ORLANDO, Fla.—The Ipsilateral Scapular Cutaneous
Anchor system returns to upper extremity amputees the unimpeded use of their
sound side. Debi Latour, MEd, OTR/L, a congenital unilateral transradial
amputee and senior occupational therapist at Shriners Hospitals for Children in
Springfield, Mass., presented her design to attendees at the
2011 American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual
Meeting and Scientific Symposium

Latour told O&P Business News that she
had always felt that there was something more she was meant to do with her
life. She found that something when she invented the Anchor design.

Patent pending since April 13, 2006, the Anchor system
consists of a flat plastic patch that adheres directly to the skin at the
scapula. A button — similar to a button used to fasten overalls —
juts from the patch and connects the body to the prosthesis by cable. The
Anchor requires a tight-fitting socket system, since the harness has been

A prosthesis should be a natural extension of the body,
she said. This anchor system returns the power for the prosthesis back to where
nature intended.

Many upper extremity amputees or patients with limb
difference reject using prostheses, and their reasons often involve the
awkwardness of the traditional figure-8 or figure-9 harness systems. Latour
told attendees that the patients involved in her study of the Anchor system
— 35 children and young adults, ages 4 to 21 years old — often
complained about the look and feel of a traditional harness, the inability to
hide it under clothing, uncomfortable and painful posturing, and limited or
difficult function.

An alternative to those designs, the Anchor system
accesses body control from the same side as the limb deficiency, she said,
eliminating the need for bulky straps that cross the body and improving
shoulder symmetry. Latour said that 91% of the study participants increased
their prosthetic use with the Anchor system.

Patients using this system have told Latour that,
“‘My movements with this seem more natural,’” and,
“‘I feel free.’ I can’t think of a better way to describe
sensory feedback than being able to say that,” she said.

The patch will remain on the skin for 1 to 5 days, but
can be removed easily with soap and water. The technology also can adhere to
scarred skin. Only one patient showed signs of a skin reaction from the
adhesive, and it cleared once the patch was removed.

Latour has always worn a
body-powered prosthesis, having decided early on that the
bulkiness of a myoelectric device was not right for her needs. As she entered
her 50s, she began to experience tingling and numbness in her sound arm, her
left, as a result of using it as a crutch for driving much of the movement from
her right arm for so many years. She even stopped using the body power
prosthesis for a while, instead opening and closing the terminal device
manually. This effect on her left side got her thinking about what would happen
to her activity level if she ever had a stroke.

“If I had a stroke that affected my left side, I
could do everything with my prosthesis because I know I can,” she said.
“But it runs off my left shoulder. If I don’t have that left shoulder
movement, I [cannot control the prosthesis on my right side]. The power had to
come from the same side.”

She spoke with her physician, prosthetist and other
therapists, but no one had a solution to the pain.

“Finally, my orthopedic surgeon said, ‘Debi,
you’re an OT. Figure it out,’” she said.

The idea finally came to her in September 2005, in a
dream, to develop a harness system that attaches to the same side of the body
as the prosthesis. She awoke the next morning, raced to work and made her first

Shriners allowed her to retain the sole license to
market and manufacture the anchor system. She has filed for limited liability
company status under the name of her blog, Single-Handed Solutions, which will
become the company’s name. Latour said she envisions an Anchor kit with
two or three of the anchors and the fastening tape.

People within the O&P profession have been
supportive of Latour’s invention. Bob Radocy, chief executive officer and
president of TRS, has been a great source of encouragement and a mentor to
Latour throughout this process, she said. She also has spoken with Bill Hansen
from Liberating Technologies about collaborating on other potential
applications for this design.

Latour has been using the system and has not looked
back. She even fashioned a patch that is red, in the shape of a heart; she
wears this with shirts that reveal that part of her back.

“I don’t want to be anything less than
authentic,” she said. “The most awesome thing is to be able to make a
difference.” — by Stephanie Z. Pavlou

Disclosure: Debi Latour is co-owner of Single-Handed Solutions
LLC, which was created to manufacture and market the Ipsilateral Scapular
Cutaneous Anchor system.


I have direct experience testing the Anchor. Although I
used it for only a few hours I was able to quickly realize the system’s
benefits. The ipsilateral control was easy to master for someone like myself
who uses a body-powered, harness and cable control prosthetic system. I
experienced no loss of proprioceptive feedback or of control with the system.
The Anchor is simple and reliable for general activities of daily living-type
of activities.

I wouldn’t recommend it for people involved in
heavy or rigorous prosthetic activities or vocations involving manual work. The
application for women and young adults is very good and might make the
difference in someone rejecting prosthetic technology or not.

The technology is viable and should be seriously
considered by practitioners for specific patient applications.

— Bob Radocy
Chief executive officer and
president, TRS
Disclosure: TRS has previously donated money to
Shriner’s for clinical testing of the Anchor System.

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