Below the Elbow Limb Differences
by Amber Henson, on Oct 12, 2021
A below-elbow, or transradial, amputation can occur at any point on the forearm from just below the elbow joint to the wrist joint. Below-elbow limb loss can be caused by trauma, by disease or be a limb difference that is present from birth. Prosthetic solutions for this amputation level must replace the functions of the wrist joint and the hand. Wrist disarticulations, which are amputations at the wrist joint, will result in similar prosthetic solutions, needing both a socket and frame, as well as a terminal device, which you can read more about below.
The Arm Dynamics clinicians will guide you through the process of deciding which option is best for you by evaluating your residual limb, discussing your personal and professional goals, and showing you examples of different prosthetic options. There are quite a few prosthetic options for people with a below-elbow limb difference. The main question is what type of terminal device will suit your lifestyle best. A terminal device is the part of your prosthesis that will touch and interact with your world — so, a cosmetic hand, a myoelectric hand, activity-specific terminal device, a hook or ETD. Some people find that they require more than one terminal device to accomplish all of their goals.
We have patients who have had various accidents that led to traumatic below-elbow unilateral amputations or bilateral amputations. We also have had many congenital limb different patients come to us, both those who wore a prosthesis as a child and others who didn’t but wanted to be fit later in life.
In the U.S., around 90 percent of amputations are lower limb. That means only about 10 percent of amputations impact the upper limbs and the majority of those involve finger and partial hand amputations. When getting a prosthetic device that will include a frame, socket and terminal device, the fit has to be spot-on for it to be comfortable and functional on a daily basis. Finding a qualified prosthetist that has significant experience fitting a transradial prosthesis that’s functional and comfortable can be difficult — unless you come to an Arm Dynamics center.
We are the only prosthetic care centers that focus solely on upper limb differences and our team of prosthetists and clinical therapy specialists have years of experience in upper limb prosthetic rehabilitation.
After the initial recovery from a below-elbow amputation, the patient may continue to experience pain in their residual limb. One treatment option that can help is called Graded Motor Imagery. Graded Motor Imagery is a non-invasive treatment option that can help decrease phantom limb pain. It has the added benefit of improving myoelectric prosthetic control in people with upper limb amputations.
We also recommend that our patients connect with our peer support network to gain access to the experiences, advice and encouragement that other people with a similar amputation level and/or amputation experience can provide.
If you or someone you know has a below the elbow amputation or a transradial congenital limb difference and would like to learn more about how we can help, please contact us. If you have a below the elbow limb difference and would like to tell your peers about it or share some encouraging words, we invite you to leave a comment under this article. Thank you!
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