Learning to use a body-powered prosthesis: changes in functionality and kinematics

L.H.B. Huinnk, H. Bouwsema, Dick H. Plettenburg, C.K. van der Sluis, R.M. Bongers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Little is known about action-perception learning processes underlying prosthetic skills in body-powered prosthesis users. Body-powered prostheses are controlled through a harness connected by a cable that might provide for limited proprioceptive feedback. This study aims to test transfer of training basic tasks to functional tasks and to describe the changes over time in kinematics of basic tasks of novice body-powered prosthesis users. Methods: Thirty able-bodied participants and 17 controls participated in the study, using a body-powered prosthetic simulator. Participants in the training group were divided over four groups and practiced during a 2-week-period either direct grasping, indirect grasping, fixation, or a combination of these tasks. Deformable objects with different compliances had to be manipulated while kinematic variables and grip force control were assessed. Functional performance was measured with the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP) prior to and after the training sessions, and after 2 weeks and 3 months retention. The control group only performed the SHAP tests. Results: All four training groups and the control group improved on the SHAP, also after a period of non-use. Type of training had a small but significant influence on the improvements of the SHAP score. On a kinematic level movement times decreased and hook closing velocities increased over time. The indirect grasping group showed significantly shorter plateau times than the other training groups. Grip force control only improved a little over training. Conclusions: Training action-perception couplings of body-powered prosthesis in basic tasks transferred to functional tasks and this lasted after a period of non-use. During training movement times decreased and the indirect grasping group showed advantages. It is advisable to start body-powered training with indirect grasping tasks but also to practice hook-object orientations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Action-perception
  • Amputee
  • Body-powered prosthetic hook
  • Functional performance
  • Grip force control
  • Kinematics
  • Proprioceptive feedback
  • Prosthetic training
  • Upper-limb prosthesis


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