Grant Awarded for Adjustable Electrode for Children’s Prostheses

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Researchers at the University of Salford, Manchester, England, are creating an adjustable electrode to make myoelectric upper-limb prostheses for children work more effectively. Because artificial limbs for children are intentionally built with room for them to grow, the electrode that helps control the device is often too loose to work properly, especially the first few weeks following a new fitting.

"Prosthetics for children are like children's clothes; because they grow so quickly, their prosthetic sockets [often] only last a few months, before they become too tight and new ones have to be made," said John Head, PhD, lecturer in prosthetics and orthotics at the university, who is leading the project. "Unfortunately, this means the child goes through a cycle in which the electrode is often too loose to work the hand effectively after a new socket fitting."

The prototype device developed by Head has been designed to enable parents to adjust the electrode's position until a visual cue, such as a green light, shows it has made optimum contact with the skin.

The original prototype, however, is too bulky to use, but a £43,810 ($60,660) grant from the Starworks Innovation Project, which works with the United Kingdom's National Health Services National Institute for Health Research, will allow researchers to continue to develop the device.

Head and his team will collaborate with the University of Southampton, England, and work with engineers to create a smaller working model. "It's an incredibly simple idea, but it could make a huge difference to these children's lives," he said.

Editor's note: This story was adapted by materials provided by University of Salford, Manchester