Upper Extremity Prosthetic Options
The passive prosthesis, which is a cosmetic restoration, is a great option for upper extremity patients. It is an excellent choice for users who do not require precise hand control or grasp, but still seek a cosmetically pleasing prosthesis.
Conventional or Body-Powered Prosthesis
The conventional or body-powered prosthesis is a choice many upper extremity users make. This prosthesis is suspended from a harness fastened around the person’s shoulder or upper torso. It is controlled by upper body movements that utilize a cable connected to the harness at one end, and to a mechanical hand, hook or elbow at the other end. Many people feel this type of prosthesis grants them a wide range of basic function and control.
Electrically Powered Prosthesis
Another option is the electrically powered prosthesis that utilizes motors to open and close the hand, and can also flex and extend the elbow or rotate the wrist. This option offers many control choices.
One of the most popular is myoelectric control. The user controls the prosthesis by contracting the muscles in the residual limb, generating EMG signals that activate the motor in the elbow, wrist or hand. Some people find that the myoelectric prosthesis allows a greater range of motion, a more natural appearance, and enhanced work ability. It is also more comfortable since the harness is either smaller or is eliminated completely.
Combining elements of the conventional and the electrically powered prosthesis create another option – the hybrid. A hybrid prosthesis provides the user with the unique ability to operate the elbow and the hand at the same time. This feature can dramatically increase the rehabilitation potential of some individuals.