Age-Appropriateness of Myoelectric Below-Elbow Prosthetic Prescription

SHARON MENKVELD, MD**, AND MARY NOVOTNY, RN, MSChicago, Illinois


Prescription of myoelectric limbs for young children is a current trend. We fitted 21 children, ages 3 to 18, with below-elbow myoelectric prostheses, funded by third-party insurers and a philanthropic source. All subjects responded to a questionnaire having openended questions to elicit idiosyncratic responses and internal checks for consistency. No subjects younger than nine wore a myoelectric prosthesis longer than seven hours (the school day) and most discontinued all prosthetic wear within six months. Many older children used their myoelectric prostheses as cosmetic limbs only. Weight of the prosthesis was the most common complaint. Dexterity was not a distinguishing variable; all children could complete most tasks; however, facility (time to completion) reflected total wearing time. We concluded that candidates should be old enough so that the weight of the prosthesis is not onerous, and screened for functional versus cosmetic need, to become successful wearers of the below-elbow myoelectric prosthesis.

**La Rabida Children's Hospital, East 65th Street at Lake Michigan, Chicago, IL 60649