Is Myoelectric Right For You?

09_12_Missing-Touch

Myoelectric prosthetic devices can offer amputees a variety of benefits. However,
myoelectrics are not designed for all amputees. It is important for people to understand
what they are and how they work before deciding if a myoelectric is the right choice.
So what exactly is a myoelectric prosthesis and how does it work? Westcoast practitioner Sean
Russo, CPO, LPO, explained that it is an upper extremity prosthetic device that is controlled
by electrical impulses created by a person’s existing muscles. It is a battery-powered device
that uses electrical components, advanced technology and muscle contractions to operate
and closely mimic a person’s anatomical arm or hand. A myoelectric can be applied to any
level of upper extremity amputation, as long as the amputee is a proper candidate for the
device.

Before being tested to see if a person can operate a myoelectric, a practitioner must first
talk with the amputee to determine the goals and desires. “Myoelectrics are designed to
enhance daily living by helping a patient around the house or to get back to work,” Russo
said. Myoelectrics are not designed for hard labor vocations or sports, and they should not
get wet. Patient compliance needs to also be considered. The batteries need to be charged
and the person needs to understand the high-tech complexities of the device.
“Technology isn’t always what will get a person’s life back after an amputation,” Russo
explained. “By taking the time to talk with patients, we can determine the best device that
will offer success.”

If an amputee’s lifestyle will tolerate a myoelectric device, the next step is to physically test
the person to see if he or she is capable of operating it. The person needs to be able to
contract muscle groups to generate a certain electrical current to operate the device. “We
use electrodes and a tablet to test the amputee’s muscle capability. It’s almost like a video
game,” Russo said. During this consultation and physical testing, the Westcoast staff also
discusses the costs, life plans and insurance coverage.

The benefit of coming to Westcoast for a myoelectric device, is that the care does not stop
with the fitting and delivery of the prosthesis. In addition to the advanced technology and
highly trained practitioners, Westcoast also offers patients an interpersonal relationship. “We
treat the overall experience, and patients become family versus just a business relationship,”
Russo said.
In addition to support from Westcoast practitioners and staff, myoelectric candidates can
also get their questions answered through the company’s vast peer support network. “If we
can’t answer something, chances are someone from our network of patients can,” Russo
said. “They can meet with other myoelectric patients and learn that this is not the end. It’s
just the beginning.”

Westcoast welcomes any upper extremity amputees to come in for a myoelectric consultation
with no obligations. If someone is looking for a second opinion, advice or further education,
the Westcoast staff is available to help.

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