Upper-limb prosthetic technology “must involve bringing prosthesis users into the early brainstorming phase,” according to the authors of a recent paper. They noted that the lack of communication between the groups can contribute to prosthetic device abandonment.
In the paper, which addressed the gap between the needs of the users and the available technologies, the authors reported on the findings from a workshop they held at the 2023 IEEE World Haptics Conference featuring a panel discussion with prosthesis users in the context of touch sensation.
The panelists first completed a survey that was used to prompt the conversation at the workshop. The responses indicated that the panelists considered functionality, reliability, and comfort as the three most important aspects of an upper-limb prosthetic device. Other important features were grip-force feedback, notification of damage to the device, feedback on prosthesis hand pose, and the ability to manipulate unseen objects.
In a post-workshop survey, the ranking of the top four desired features changed order but remained essentially unchanged, the authors found. However, the difference of opinions that emerged among the users point to the need for a customized approach.
The paper also addressed the overrepresentation in research of users of who have the economic ability to access cutting-edge devices and suggested that study recruitment avoid alienating any user groups.
The paper, “Touching reality: Bridging the user-researcher divide in upper-limb prosthetics,” was published in the journal Science.