Conventional cable operated prostheses are often the most durable and least cosmetic type of upper extremity prosthesis. People often associate this type of prosthesis with wearing a hook or similar tool type prehensors, however body powered hands are also available. This device is preferred when a patient does not have appropriate muscle EMG signal strength for a myo-electric type device or there is a need to work in environments where an electronic device is not well suited such as wet or extremely dirty conditions. Cable operated systems often provide the advantage of being light weight and low cost, while providing the ability to be very strong and easy to learn control strategies.
Heir disadvantages lie in the loss of function outside the body envelop due to loss of efficiency of the cable pull or muscular excursion. They also require good range of motion as well as strength in the sound side limb. Control options are often provided with bi-scapular abduction or gleno-humeral flexion. Multiple control strategies can be afforded with dual and triple control harness techniques, however these controls can be more difficult to learn and master. Lastly the popularity of these systems has decreased over the years as research has reported the complications that can arise due to tight harnessing in the axillary region of the sound side limb, often resulting in nerve impingements with long term use.
Body powered prostheses are often used for activity specific devices such as specialized attachments for specific sporting activities or tool use functions.
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