Externally Powered Partial Hand Prostheses Can Improve Function

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Loss of a hand results in significant functional deficits and requires adaptation of movement patterns which may result in overuse injuries. While an externally powered prosthesis may improve function of the affected limb and reduce the overreliance on the intact side, little research has been done in this area.

A study published August 30 in the journal Prosthetics and Orthotics International investigated changes in upper-limb function and kinematics in individuals with partial-hand amputations performing a functional assessment by comparing results with and without a multiarticulating hand prosthesis.

Three-dimensional kinematics were collected for individuals with four- and five-digit limb loss as they performed the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP) with and without a prothesis.

Ten men completed the protocol: five with four-digit loss (thumb intact) and five with five-digit loss. Significantly larger joint motions were seen without the prosthesis than with for all participants, which may be an indicator of higher risk for overuse injury, the study found. Significant improvement was seen in SHAP scores in the five-digit limb loss participants using the prosthesis compared with not using the device.

The prosthesis reduced functional deficits and decreased joint range of motion in individuals with partial hand loss, the study found. Results showed reduced compensatory motions throughout the upper limb and torso which may reduce the risk of overuse injury.