Adolescent congenital partial hand amputees fit with electric multi-articulation digit prostheses

Diane J. Atkins, OTR, FISPO
Diane J. Atkins

BANFF, Canada — Traditional assumptions regarding congenital partial hand patients are that they are essentially independent in daily living and fitting them with prostheses would not enhance their functional well-being. Another assumption is that besides passive aesthetic prostheses, there are no functional prosthetic alternatives for this population. Diane J. Atkins, OTR, FISPO, clinical assistant professor, Baylor University, challenged that assumption in a study she presented at this year’s Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics (ACPOC) meeting here.

According to Atkins, there is an increasing interest among adolescents who would like to further examine the advantages, if any, of electric multi-articulating digit prostheses.

“With this technology we are seeing an emerging trend in adolescents with congenital partial hand absence wanting to be fit with a prosthesis,” Atkins told the audience. “What does it have to offer that hasn’t been offered before?”

The small study examined three adolescents with congenital partial hand absences who were fit with a multi-articulating prosthesis. A comprehensive follow-up evaluation was conducted 3 months following delivery of the device. The evaluation gathered data on many fronts including device performance, independence, activity level, social adjustment, pain, motivation and quality of life.

“The feedback that we received was quite surprising,” she said. “Yes, the prosthesis made them more capable. But to the subjects, it was more important that others saw them as more capable.”

Atkins noted that some of the emerging trends include improved perception of their functional independence, improved perception in how others perceive them in their ability to succeed and improved perception of pain relief. They felt more comfortable. Although these results are preliminary, they suggest that there appears to be a growing acceptance and desire in adolescents with congenital partial hand absence to be fit with electric multi-articulating prostheses.

“The interest to be more independent in two-handed activities and the desire to have a more natural appearing hand, appears to outweigh the loss of sensation when their partial hand is covered with a prosthesis, suggesting a paradigm shift in how these patients should be evaluated and advised regarding prosthetic alternatives,” Atkins said.

For more information:

  • Atkins, DJ. Emerging trends in adolescents, with congenital partial hand absence, fit with electric multi-articulation digit prostheses. Presented at the Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics Annual Meeting. April 11-14. Banff, Canada.

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