New activity performance measurement shows mastery of a prosthetic limb

A new measure of activity performance for adults with upper limb amputation measures how adequately they are able to perform and complete certain tasks.

The Activities Measure for Upper Limb Amputees (AM-ULA) provides standardized methods and criteria for clinicians to grade patients’ performance, speed, movement quality, skillfulness of prosthetic use and independence with a prosthetic limb.

According to a press release, 49 veterans with upper limb amputation from Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities in Tampa, Fla., New York and the US Army’s Fort Sam Houston in Texas participated in a cohort study in which 18 everyday tasks — such as putting on and removing a shirt, serving soda from a can, combing hair, tying shoes and using a spoon — were measured by the AM-ULA. Participants were videotaped and graded by two independent raters.

Overall, researchers found that participants with more distal levels of limb loss had better scores vs. participants with more proximal levels. Most dexterity tests and self-reported function moderately correlated with the AM-ULA.

“Patients can’t just take a prosthesis out of a box and start using it skillfully,” Linda Resnik, PhD, associate research professor in public health at Brown University and a research scientist at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, stated in a press release. “Patients need training to make the most of upper limb prosthesis. Physical and occupational therapists train people to use adaptive equipment and prosthetic devices — teaching them strategies to accomplish functional tasks, and guiding them in therapeutic exercises and activities. Outcome measures are needed in all areas of health care, but particularly so in the area of prosthetic rehabilitation. We need measures to let us know if our patients are improving the way that we expect them to.”

For more information:

Resnik L. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012;doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2012.10.004.


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