Category: Healthcare

An overview of Upper Limb Prosthetics

A survey of 2005 in the United States showed that about 540,000 people have had a loss of an upper limb and among them, about 40,000 of them had amputations above their wrists. It is expected that this number will double by 2050. Cancer, vascular complications caused by diseases, and trauma are the major causes of upper limb amputation. 

Prosthetic use is the main primary treatment for disabilities and amputations serve as an effort to bring back functional independence as well as the quality of life. One should be patient while dealing with prosthetic restoration and upper limb amputation. Give a delay in the initial prosthetic fitting as well as training for prosthetic abandonment/rejection.

Many advancements and research are taking place in technologies related to the upper limb prosthetics and amputation field. Thus, many collaborations are happening between different governments, medical, research, and academic institutions to bring advances in upper limb prosthetic componentry, signal control schemes, surgical techniques, and socket designs. 

A surgical technique known as Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) can raise myositis in the residual limb to improve prosthetic control. The peripheral nerves as well as the brachial plexus residual limb will stay intact after amputation. In this surgical process, the residual nerves in the arms are taken and transferred, not harming the target muscles located in the residual limb. The target muscle’s EMG signals will now correspond to the limb’s motor commands. The myositis that happens, as a result, will physiologically correspond to the prosthetic control functions when successful. 

Some researchers are focused on finding ways to offer sensory feedback and precise control to upper limb prosthetic devices. The HAPTIX or the Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces are specifically designed to utilize motor and sensory signals in the residual limb, helping the individual to handle their prosthetic device using the same neural signaling utilized for their intact limbs. The main aim here is to offer intuitive control of the hand’s various degrees of freedom along with offering sensory feedback to enhance proprioception, precision, and grip force with a prosthesis.

Each prosthesis is customized and unique to the individual. Even though prostheses might seem similar, no standard or normal upper limb prosthesis. The upper limb prosthetic systems are of four types – the hybrid system, the externally powered system, the body-powered system, and the passive system. The selection process can be difficult. Several factors like the vocational and functional goals of the patient’s expected environmental exposures, access to a skilled prosthetist in case of maintenance, financial resources, etc, have to be considered.

A passive system primarily serves as a cosmetic, however, it can work as a stabilizer too. A body-powered system prosthesis makes use of body strength or residual limb of the patient and ROM to handle the prosthesis. An externally powered system utilizes an external power source, like a battery, for the prosthesis to operate. A hybrid system makes use of the joint movement and the muscle strength of the patient along with an external power supply.