Differences in Myoelectric and Body-Powered Upper-Limb Prostheses: Systematic Literature Review

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Abstract

The choice of a myoelectric or body-powered upper-limb prosthesis can be determined using factors including control, function, feedback, cosmesis, and rejection. Although body-powered and myoelectric control strategies offer unique functions, many prosthesis users must choose one. A systematic review was conducted to determine differences between myoelectric and body-powered prostheses to inform evidence-based clinical practice regarding prescription of these devices and training of users. A search of 9 databases identified 462 unique publications. Ultimately, 31 of them were included and 11 empirical evidence statements were developed. Conflicting evidence has been found in terms of the relative functional performance of body-powered and myoelectric prostheses. Body-powered prostheses have been shown to have advantages in durability, training time, frequency of adjustment, maintenance, and feedback; however, they could still benefit from improvements of control. Myoelectric prostheses have been shown to improve cosmesis and phantom-limb pain and are more accepted for light-intensity work. Currently, evidence is insufficient to conclude that either system provides a significant general advantage. Prosthetic selection should be based on a patient’s individual needs and include personal preferences, prosthetic experience, and functional needs. This work demonstrates that there is a lack of empirical evidence regarding functional differences in upper-limb prostheses.

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