A research team examining mobility limitations among people with lower-limb amputations conducted a literature review to approach the problem from a human-centered perspective. The reviewers focused on identifying user needs as a critical step for the development of new generation lower-limb prostheses that aim to improve the quality of life of their users. However, because user needs are interrelated and multifaceted, such as mobility level, age, and gender, they suggest that novel assessment methods are required that can evaluate the impact of the system from a holistic perspective, capturing objective outcomes, and the users’ experience and satisfaction in daily life.
The systematic review of the literature included 56 articles in which a need (desire, wish) was reported explicitly by the recruited people with lower-limb amputations (N = 8,149).
The exhaustive list of user needs was collected and subdivided into functional, psychological, cognitive, ergonomics, and other domains. Where appropriate, the reviewers also discussed the developments in prosthetic devices that are related to or could have an impact on those needs.
The reviewers found that prosthesis users would like to lead an independent life and reintegrate into society by returning to work and participating in social and leisure activities. Efficient, versatile, and stable gait, and support to other activities (e.g., sit to stand) contribute to safety and confidence, while appearance and comfort are important for the body image.
However, the relation between specific needs, objective measures of performance, and overall satisfaction and quality of life is still an open question, the researchers concluded.
The open-access study, “A review of user needs to drive the development of lower limb prostheses, was published in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.