Individuals with lower-limb amputations and certified prosthetists offered their perspectives to researchers regarding possible residual limb monitoring system features and data presentation. In turn, researchers gathered information on the type of residual limb problems typically encountered, how they currently manage those problems, and their ideas for methods to better manage them.
To collect the information, researchers held two focus groups, one with certified prosthetists and another with those who had lower-limb prostheses. Researchers asked and recorded open-ended questions, which were transcribed and assessed using applied thematic analysis.
Seven individuals participated in each focus group. Prosthetists came from a mix of practice settings, while prosthesis users were diverse in level of amputation, cause of amputation, and years of experience using lower-limb prostheses. Residual limb problems reported by participants were consistent with those in the literature. Participants suggested better managing residual limb problems through improved education, better detection of residual limb problems, as well as using sensor-based information to improve prosthetic technology. Participants favored short-term use of possible residual limb monitoring systems to troubleshoot residual limb problems, with temperature and pressure the most frequently mentioned measurements. Participants described that an ideal residual limb monitoring system would be lightweight, would not interfere with prosthesis function, and would result in benefits with regard to prosthetic care and socket function that outweighed inconveniences or concerns regarding system use. A potential positive of system use included having objective data for reimbursement justification, although it was pointed out that the residual limb monitoring system itself also needed to be reimbursable.
The report was published online September 5 in Disability and Rehabilitation.