Badminton Assistive Device for Unilateral Upper-Extremity Amputees

Ronald C. Adams

Badminton is a racquet game that is becoming increasingly popular in public school physical education programs and for family recreation in backyard settings. The game consists entirely of volleying a shuttlecock or "birdie" over the net, meaning that it must be struck in mid-air before it touches the ground or floor. The game may be played indoors or out, with two players on each side (doubles), or one player on each side (singles). When played properly, badminton requires a great deal of speed, coordination, power, and endurance. However, some players are handicapped by a lower- or upper-extremity disability which interferes with stroke production. An assistive device called a "serving tray," designed recently at the University of Virginia Children's Rehabilitation Center, enables upper-extremity amputees to make active use of their prostheses when serving the shuttlecock.

Case Report

The case reported in this article is that of a 10 1/2-year-old boy who had a traumatic amputation of his left upper extremity just below the shoulder. He was fitted with an above-elbow dual-control prosthesis with an 88XA terminal device. During his short inpatient stay at the Children's Rehabilitation Center he attended Occupational Therapy for prosthetic training and Recreational Therapy for development of prosthetic awareness skills. He made a rapid adjustment to the prosthetic device and showed confidence in using the artificial limb in structured situations. The patient achieved particular success in the areas of horseback riding, billiards, and badminton, with the assistance of certain adaptive devices. There was no evidence of a dismemberment complex.

Amputee Serving Tray

The serving tray was designed for use by the unimembral above- or below-elbow amputee. Its purpose is to enable him to make active use of his prosthesis when serving the shuttlecock. The shaft of the tray is firmly grasped with the terminal device, and additional support is produced by the forearm control cuff. This cuff is molded from thermoplastic material (Orthoplast available from Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903) to fit the prosthesis. The birdie is placed with the feathers resting in the tray (Fig. 1 ). By adjusting the terminal device so that the tray is on a slight angle, the player can then proceed to lift and rotate his artificial arm, thereby releasing the birdie. At this instance, the player can use his unaffected extremity to execute the underhand serve stroke with the racquet. For a serve to be legal, the rules state that the shuttlecock must be hit below the server's waist and that, at the moment of contact, the racquet head must be below the server's hand.

No major problems should be encountered after the amputee learns the fundamental stroke which is the underhand serve stroke. The serving tray device is worn throughout the game (Fig. 2 ). It can assist in the development of balance and coordination, particularly when volleying and using smash and drive strokes.

Description of the Device

Tray Diagram

Coat hanger wire is used. It is bent into the shape of the serving tray. The wire should be long enough to include the control cuff, shaft, and tray. Length will vary depending upon the size of the terminal device and the prosthesis.

The base of a soup or vegetable can is cut off for the serving tray. The base should be 3 in. in diameter with a 1 in. rim.

The tray is placed in the wire rim and the edges of the can are bent over the wire frame and soldered.

An orthotist should complete the project by fitting the thermoplastic material around the wire shaft and control cuff. The cuff is molded to fit the prosthesis snugly. Small indentations can be made in the thermoplastic shaft to accommodate the hook fingers. This should be done at the end of the shaft next to the tray.

Ronald Adams is Director of Recreational Therapy and Adapted Physical Education Children's Rehabilitation Center, University of Virginia Hospital Charlottesville, Virginia