Though the DEKA Arm promises new abilities, it is unclear if women with upper-limb amputations are willing to embrace the technology, according to a study published May 9 in the journal of Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. The purpose of the study was to understand key factors and tradeoffs that shape women’s attitudes towards the DEKA Arm. Results showed that women should be able to derive the functional benefits of advances in upper limb technology without needing to compromise their feminine identity and lifestyle preferences. Advanced upper-limb prosthetic technologies will be better accepted by women if they are appropriately gendered in appearance and designed with women’s priorities in mind, the study found.
Structured surveys and semi-guided interviews were administered after completion of in-laboratory training and a home trial of the DEKA Arm for three women with transradial amputations. A constant comparative method with a grounded theory approach was used to generate a model describing women’s decision-making related to the DEKA Arm. Quantitative data on prosthetic satisfaction was used to triangulate findings.
Factors that enhanced desirability of the DEKA Arm were improved functionality, increased abilities, and the availability of someone to service the prosthesis, according to the study. Factors that detracted from desirability of the device were its appearance, conspicuousness, lifestyle incompatibility, weight, need for service, and difficulty of use. Each woman weighted these factors within the larger context of the capabilities of and satisfaction with her personal prostheses, self-concept, and lifestyle needs. Situational demands, particularly the desire to appear feminine and professional or the need to perform certain activities also altered the valuation of these priorities, the study found.