Volume 48 Number 6, 2011
Pages 707 — 718
Abstract — Technological advances in upper-limb prosthetic design offer dramatically increased possibilities for powered movement. The DEKA Arm system allows users 10 powered degrees of movement. Learning to control these movements by utilizing a set of motions that, in most instances, differ from those used to obtain the desired action prior to amputation is a challenge for users. In the Department of Veterans Affairs "Study to Optimize the DEKA Arm," we attempted to facilitate motor learning by using a virtual reality environment (VRE) program. This VRE program allows users to practice controlling an avatar using the controls designed to operate the DEKA Arm in the real world. In this article, we provide highlights from our experiences implementing VRE in training amputees to use the full DEKA Arm. This article discusses the use of VRE in amputee rehabilitation, describes the VRE system used with the DEKA Arm, describes VRE training, provides qualitative data from a case study of a subject, and provides recommendations for future research and implementation of VRE in amputee rehabilitation. Our experience has led us to believe that training with VRE is particularly valuable for upper-limb amputees who must master a large number of controls and for those amputees who need a structured learning environment because of cognitive deficits.
Key words: amputation, control mechanisms, DEKA Arm, medical devices, motor learning, motor pathways, prosthetics, prosthetic training methods, rehabilitation, virtual reality, virtual reality environment.
Last Reviewed or Updated Monday, July 11, 2011 9:22 AM