Date Presented 04/22/2023

This presentation addresses utilization of OT and prosthetics by those with upper limb differences through description of a quantitative study. Implications for OT practice with this population will be discussed.

Primary Author and Speaker: Amber Jenkins

Additional Authors and Speakers: Olivia Coons, Emily Delassus

Contributing Authors: Nallely Caballero Baeza, Abbie Brandhagen, Kyiah Bell, Olivia Coons, Emily Delassus

PURPOSE: The primary author, an occupational therapist with an upper limb different who does not use a prosthesis, wanted to explore the variables surrounding prosthetic use and the role of occupational therapy (OT). A gap in the literature remains specific to prosthetic use and training and the utilization of OT to address occupational performance for this population. Evidence suggests that the rate of prosthetic use by persons with upper extremity amputations varies between 27% - 56% (Raichle, et al., 2008). Additional research indicates that OT can enhance the adoption of a prosthetic hand (Laurie & Mandacina, 2018). This study aimed to explore utilization of prosthetics and therapy services by those with upper limb differences.

DESIGN: The study was a descriptive, quantitative design using an online survey. Participants who were 18 years or older with an upper limb difference and who possessed English language literacy were recruited through random convenience sampling.

METHOD: The study consisted of a researcher-developed survey containing demographic, multiple choice and open-ended questions.

RESULTS: Participants (N=59) reported limited use of OT services (N=22) within traditional settings with varied experiences. Cost was not indicated to be a factor in accessing OT services. Less than half of participants (N=25) reported having used a prosthetic at some point. Thirteen participants received OT services to learn to use their prosthetic. Approximately half of participants (N=27) indicated potentially pursuing a prosthetic if it were affordable or covered by insurance.

CONCLUSION: This study showed that participants with upper limb differences are limited users of both OT services and prosthetics. Further exploration of the role of OT services for those with upper limb differences with or without a prosthetic is needed. Studies on the role and knowledge base of occupational therapists to engage with this population will transform practice.


Laurie, M., Mandacina, S. (2018). Defining the benefits of occupational therapy for users of multiarticulate prosthetic hands. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(4).

Raichle, K. A., Hanley, M.A., Molton, I., Kadel, N.J., Campbell, K., Phelps, E., Ehde, D., & Smith, D.G. (2008). Prosthesis use in persons with lower- and upper-limb amputation. The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 45(7), 961–972.