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Sports and recreation adaptations for upper extremity prostheses
A number of devices exist that can be attached to a prosthetic arm in order to perform various activities of daily living, housework, work outside of the home, and sports and recreation. It is possible to perform many of these activities with only the sound arm, and with practice, become proficient (2). The use of an activity-specific arm adaptation, however, is reported to encourage a more balanced physiologic development (2).
The devices can be divided into several categories based on a person’s needs. They include the following
- Carpentry Tools
- Eating Utensils
- Hands-Free Station
- Kitchen Utensils
- Mechanic Tools
- Sports and Recreation
History of Sports and Recreation Adaptations
Before the 1980s, the only company producing sport/recreation adaptations was Hosmer-Dorrance, who created Baseball and Bowling adapters. Any other adaptation that was needed by a prosthetic user was made by the user themselves (2).
The later 1970s and early 1980s onward have shown the largest increase in upper limb prosthetic adaptations for sports and recreations due to consumer groups spreading more awareness of the technology. With the increasing interest of the disabled population to sports and recreation, there have been more pressures on prosthetic companies to create technology that would allow a person with an amputation to be able to compete against an able-bodies counterpart (2).
An essential component in the use of sports and recreation adaptations is successful rehabilitation. It is essential that the person has good physical capacities, such as range of motion, muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility (2).
Sports and Recreation Adaptations
Each sport requires different demands on the athlete and therefore necessitates specific properties in the prosthesis.
The following is a list of sports and recreation adaptations that have been manufactured.
Requirements of the prosthesis(2) :
- Positive gripping prehension
- Quick release capability
- Ability to handle cylindrical shapes (ex. Masts)
- Corrosion and rot resistant (if using in saltwater)
- Body powered (due to all the water exposure, externally powered is not recommended)
Requirements of the prosthesis (2):
- Should not lock onto the ski rope
- Prosthesis should not have harness and cable
- Can use self-suspending socket
- Externally powered not recommended (due to potential water damage)
- Neoprene sleeve (so arm will float on water if pulled off)
Swimming is a very low impact exercise and is good for rehabilitation and developing muscular strength and flexibility. Swimming prostheses are predominantly used by competitive swimmers; most people with upper extremity amputations are able to swim well without any assistive device (2).
Requirements of the prosthesis (2):
- Can be used with a custom swimming prosthesis or without any prosthesis (3)
- Must be waterproof (can’t use externally powered device)
Requirements of Device (3):
- Release Quickly
- Attach securely to paddle
- Replicate wrist action needed to paddle
With downhill snow skiing, many people with upper extremity amputations ski without the use of poles. On the other hand, poles are a necessity for cross country or Nordic skiing. Requirements for the adaptation in the use of the ski poles are as follows (3).
- Wrist extension necessary in planting the pole
- Can fit over a ski pole/modified ski pole
- Can be used with body powered or mechanical arms
Requirements of device (2, 3):
- Energy storing
- Grip can adapt to a variety of grip styles
- Secure grip on club
- Flexible multi-axis joint required for a full swing
For more information on golf accessibility, refer to the article, Accessible golf
The Shroom Tumbler provides a cushion for tumbling and gymnastics exercises on the floor. It is made of a soft, strong rubber material and can support up to 200 pounds (3).
The free-flex by TRS is a very strong and flexible device allowing for a push of.
Recreational arm adaptations are not just for sports activities, but can be used for other hobbies such as music and photography.
The majority of cameras can be used with traditional body powered or externally powered prostheses. However, TRS created an attachment called the Amp-U-Pod that attaches to 35 mm cameras (still and video) with a standard tripod mount (2,3).
Every instrument has special requirements for how it is played, requiring the prosthetic attachment to be different for each instrument. Guitars typically require picking; the attachment screws a pick in place and can be locked at several angles to suit the player and prosthesis (2,3).
With a violin, the accessory is very similar to that of the guitar, but it is able to attach to the bow of a violin (3).
Piano, on the other hand, requires a much different set of movements. The following is an image of a custom made piano adaptation (2).
More Pictures of Adaptations
For more information about the devices listed above, check out the following websites