About 10,000 new cases of upper extremity amputations are recorded annually with trauma and surgery as the top two most typical reasons for undergoing the procedure. Although there are many individuals who have upper extremity amputation, only half of the amputee population uses some kind of prosthesis.
The importance of wearing hand prosthetics is reflected through its various purposes in everyday living. Aside from providing favorable aesthetic results, this procedure can also help in accomplishing the daily, recreational and vocational tasks of the person. Every individual has a unique and special need in completing activities of daily living so the management of hand prosthesis is done in a personalized approach.
Similar to the technological innovations applied to the lower extremity prosthetics, the field of medicine has also witnessed some important developments in the utilization of upper extremity prosthetics. With the advent of computer technology, the use of hand prosthetics has immensely advanced in terms of its aesthetic and functional features.
Hand prosthetics can be classified into three main types:
1. Conventional or Body Powered Hand Prosthetics
This type of upper extremity prosthetic device works with the use of a harness system. Performing a specific movement of the body will control the harness system. The heavy duty structure of the body powered prosthetics makes it more durable. Because of its construction, it is also good at proprioception and is less heavy as compared to the myoelectric ones. Conventional types are cheaper than the other forms and will not require as much maintenance to the user.
2. External Power or Myoelectric Hand Prosthetics
External hand prosthetics does not need the use of a harness system. Instead, the device is controlled by utilizing an electric motor that is powered by batteries. EMG signals coming from the skin are perceived by the sensors implanted in the socket. The EMG signals are then transmitted to a processor which takes charge of how the motor should function. For more positive results of this prosthetic usage, intensive training is required.
3. Cosmetic or Passive Functional Hand Prosthetics
Cosmetic hand prosthetics is considered as an aesthetic device because it copies the appearance of the amputated hand and serves as a replacement. However, it can also function by assisting in simple carrying and balancing of things. This type of prosthetic device is aesthetically helpful, requires minimum maintenance and is not heavy to use.
4. Hybrid Prosthetics
Combing the functions of a conventional and myoelectric hand prosthetics will result in a hybrid type of prosthetic device. Hybrid hand prosthetics is best applied to individuals with above-the-elbow (transhumeral) amputations which can bring back the function of the hand and elbow. Both the harness system and external power source control the elbow joint device.
5. Recreational or Adaptive Hand Prosthetics
An adaptive or recreational hand prosthetics is custom-made according to a specific activity or function needed. Recreational activities like playing instruments, sports (fishing, golfing and skiing), shooting pool and construction work may require some specific kind of upper extremity prosthetic that suits how the person might want to use it.