(This article originally appeared in Volume XV, No. 2 of theJPO: Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics

Comparative Analysis of Microprocessors in Upper Limb Prosthetics

The recent emergence of microprocessor-based prosthetic control for the individual with upper limb deficiency has expanded the spectrum of treatment options and inclusion criteria for this patient population. Microprocessors can accept a wide variety of input devices and ranges to enhance an individual’s prosthetic function and to allow myoelectric control options for individuals who, although strongly indicated for electric prosthesis, were not candidates for such prosthetic management secondary to limited control strategies and myo-signal strength of available systems. Additionally, myoelectric control parameters can be adjusted to optimize function while retaining the flexibility to individualize each prosthesis. With multiple processors available, it is difficult to identify the appropriate component for a particular patient. Variables that should be examined include the amount of clearance available for microprocessor integration, weight of the microprocessor and appropriate power supply, compatibility of existing components, and patient requirement for such technology. Several microprocessors, including the Otto Bock DMC/Sensor Hand, ProControl II, and Programmable VariGrip III, were analyzed. This comparison of the microprocessors provides valuable feedback for prosthetists as they weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each system to optimize both functional and cosmetic requirements for a patient.

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