Even 10,000 new upper extremity amputations are recorded every year. It constitutes a large number of people whose lives need some reorganization. Prosthetics comes with help to them, but surprisingly, only a half of the big group of the amputees decide to use prostheses.
Some of us may think that hand prostheses play only the aesthetic role. It is not true, a hand prosthesis can help an amputee regain his or her daily activity and complete many types of everyday tasks successfully. Thus, wearing a hand prosthesis is very important in the process of psychological recovery and return to the normal way of living, including work and recreation time. Since people differ from each other in their activities and needs, hand prostheses need to be personalized and treated individually.
As we have been observing recently, lower limbs prostheses has undergone a lot of technological development. When it comes to the upper limb prostheses, they are bringing more and more innovations and facilitation for the amputees as well. Developments in the area of prosthetics are going to go continuously further thanks to the constant advances in computer technology which works brilliantly in service of people in need.
The available types of hand prostheses
Cosmetic; Passive Functional
This type of a hand prosthesis constitutes a visual replacement of a hand. Although it is treated as a typical aesthetic type of a prosthetic device, it can provide help in some simple actions like carrying or balancing things. It is lightweight and undemanding in terms of the maintenance.
As it has been already mentioned, individual patients may need extremely different prostheses, which depends on the type of their activities. Playing instruments, construction work or sports demand an individual approach in terms of the specific prostheses usage. The adaptive or recreational prostheses are the most suitable in such cases. They can be customized in such a way that in effect, the personalized prosthesis functions accordingly to the patient’s unique needs.
Conventional; Body Powered
Such a prosthesis works basing on a special harness system which is operated by the specific movement of a patient’s body. Its assets are: good durability, less weight than in the case of Myoelectric, and lower price. The maintenance does not require lots of effort, which is another good aspect of using this type of a hand prosthesis.
External Power; Myoelectric
Instead of basing on the harness system, this type of a prosthesis remains under control of an electric motor powered by batteries. A patient’s skin sends EMG signals which are collected by the sensors placed in the socket. Then, the signals are directed into a processor which manages the functioning of the motor. Unfortunately, the prosthesis is not easy in usage. So as to use it successfully, patients need a proper training.
This is a combination of the conventional and myoelectric types. The hybrid prosthesis provides a good solution for patients after the transhumeral (above the elbow) amputations. It can help regain the cooperation of the hand and elbow. The harness system and the externally powered motor work together to control the device which plays a role of the elbow joint.