An Upper-Limb Prosthesis for Infants

HUGH WATTS, MD*Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Current wisdom dictates that an infant born with an upper-limb deficiency should be fitted with a prosthesis at about the time the child begins sitting. Contemporary prostheses are heavy, not easily adjusted for circumferential growth and have no suitably sized prehensile terminal device.

A newly developed prosthesis is made of polypropylene which is light in weight, heat-stretchable and readily worked, which has been fitted with a spherical terminal device covered in Velcro loop material. The child is provided with toys to which Velcro hook material is attached. The spherical shape of the terminal device allows some element of prehension without the need for prepositioning of the device. A total-contact socket is vacuum-formed over a plaster positive model of the infant's upper-limb. The terminal device is a solid ball of polypropylene 4 cm in diameter. The final prosthesis weighs approximately 150 g.

*The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia PA 19104