Original research| Volume 101, ISSUE 8, P1396-1406, August 2020

Function and Quality of Life of Unilateral Major Upper Limb Amputees: Effect of Prosthesis Use and Type



      To compare patient-reported outcomes of disability, activity difficulty, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) by prosthetic device use and configuration and to identify factors associated with these outcomes.


      Telephone survey.


      General community.


      Population-based sample of veterans (N=755) with unilateral upper limb amputation recruited from a national sample of veterans with upper limb amputation who received care at the Veterans Affairs clinic from 2010-2015.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Upper limb–related disability was measured using Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score (QuickDASH). HRQOL was measured using the Veterans RAND 12-item Health Survey Mental and Physical Component scores. Activity difficulty was assessed for 1-handed and 2-handed tasks and by questions about the need for help with activities of daily living (ADLs).


      Patients who did not use a prosthesis had more difficulty performing 1-handed tasks using the residual limb as compared with those who used body-powered prostheses. Cosmetic device users had more task difficulty than body-powered or myoelectric users. Linear regression models did not show an association between type of prosthesis used and HRQOL scores, but did show that those who did not use a prosthesis (non-users) had worse QuickDASH scores (β=9.4; P=.0004) compared to body-powered users. In logistic regression modeling, the odds of needing help with ADLs were 1.84 times higher (95% confidence interval, 1.16-2.92) for non-users compared with body-powered users.


      Amputees who did not use a prosthesis or used a cosmetic prosthesis reported more difficulty in activities and greater disability as compared with those who use body-powered and myoelectric devices. Non-users were more likely to need help with ADLs as compared with those who used a body-powered prosthesis. Our findings highlight the clinical importance of encouraging prosthesis use. Further research is needed to compare physical performance by prosthesis configuration.


      List of abbreviations:

      ADL (activity of daily living), DOF (degrees of freedom), HRQOL (health-related quality of life), MCS (Mental Component Summary), PCS (Physical Component Summary), QuickDASH (Disabilities of the Arm), Shoulder (and Hand score), VA (Veterans Affairs), VR-12 (Veterans RAND 12-item Health Survey)
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