Survey of Bilateral Upper Limb Prosthesis Users
Bilateral upper limb loss (BiULL) is perhaps the greatest challenge for upper limb prosthetic care, now more than ever, as we witness the increase of sepsis as a major cause of multiple limb loss. This small-n survey has recruited 28 individuals with BiULL, 27 of whom are prosthesis wearers. 12 of the 28 lost four limbs to sepsis; 17 of the 27 prosthesis wearers use body-powered hooks, six use electric hooks, and four use electric hands as their dominant terminal device. Secondary prosthetic use is also included, when the secondary prosthetic set was used for 10% or more of total activities.
The survey used person-to-person interviews to compile detailed data about how tasks are performed, how many tasks are performed, etc. A detailed picture is painted from this data, including the functionality and independence achieved by many in this population, and the needs expressed for improvements in their devices of choice, and the care they receive. For example, the indications for improvements needed emphasized greater dependability, and greater grip security. Ratings of prosthetic features illuminated shortcomings in training especially.
The information should be useful for clinical guidance, but also to help guide the development of future prosthetic devices, as well as set an example for how a small-scale study can collect useful data about the use of prosthetic devices, without a large grant or large institutional sponsorship.