Myoelectric Below-Elbow Prostheses in the Very Young Child

ELIZABETH R. SANDERSON, R. R. CALDWELL,Z. WEDDERBURN AND ROBERT N. SCOTT*Fredericton, New Brunswick


The rationale for supplying powered prostheses at a very young age and unique features of fitting and training infants are based on clinical data on six congenital amputees fitted when 17 to 30 months of age with myoelectric prostheses, using either two-state or three-state control. Follow-up ranges from four to 21 months. All infants demonstrated very quickly the ability to control the myoelectric prosthesis voluntarily. Initially functional use of the prosthesis appears to be restricted to relatively few activities. By 24 months use is generalized to include many novel tasks. Acceptance has been excellent by the infants and their parents. Initial and maintenance costs are presented. Issues requiring further research:

a) What modifications are needed in training techniques for very young patients? (Myoelectric toys are not as effective as with older children.)

b) What is the impact of very early myoelectric fitting upon perceptual development?

c) What is the optimum age for myoelectric fitting?

*Bio-Engineering Institute, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5A3 Canada