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New metric to track prosthetic arm progress
Date:10/31/2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] Amputees with a new prosthetic arm must learn how to use their device to perform everyday tasks that were once second nature. Taking off a shirt becomes a conscious, multistep effort: grasp the shirt, lift the shirt over the head, pull arms through the sleeves, place the shirt on the table, let go of the shirt.

In the best cases of treatment, patients work with teams of doctors, prosthetists, and therapists to learn how their new limbs can help them regain function and quality of life. But clinicians have had few tools to assess whether that crucial teaching/learning process is going well, because of a lack of standardized measurements to use with adults with upper limb amputations. To change that, a research team has unveiled a new index that clinicians can use to assess their patients' progress. They describe the Activities Measure for Upper Limb Amputees (the AM-ULA) in an article published online Oct. 19 in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

"Patients can't just take a prosthesis out of the box and start using it skillfully," said lead author and physical therapist Linda Resnik, an associate research professor in public health at Brown University and a research scientist at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center. "The upper limb is used to perform so many types of tasks. Patients need training to make the most of an upper limb prosthesis. Physical and occupational therapists train people to use adaptive equipment and prosthetic devices, teaching them strategies to accomplish functional tasks, and guiding them in therapeutic exercises and activities. We need measures to let us know if our patients are improving the way that we expect them to. When they get a new device, what are the benefits? Are they able do more with it?"

The AM-ULA provides standardized methods and criteria for clinicians to grade patients' performance, speed, and skill using any kind of p
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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