According to a Brown University news release, a research team has pinpointed a new measure intended to assist in evaluating how well an adult amputee can perform activities of daily living (ADLs) with a prosthetic arm. The team outlines the Activities Measure for Upper Limb Amputees (the AMU-ULA) appear in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 

The release reports that the AM-ULA offer clinicians standardized methods and criteria to grade patients’ performance, speed, and skill using any kind of prosthetic arm to do 18 daily tasks. These tasks include putting on and removing a shirt, serving soda from a can, combing hair, tying shoes, and using a spoon.

Linda Resnik, PhD, PT, OCS, associate research professor in public health, Brown University, and research scientist at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, notes that in addition to physical and occupational therapists teaching patients strategies to accomplish functional tasks and guiding them in therapeutic exercises and activities, “We need measures to let us know if our patients are improving the way that we expect them to. When they get a new device, what are the benefits? Are they able to do more with it?” Resnik explains.

The team reports that one of the methods they employed to refine the metric and ensure its reliability encompassed determining whether two independent raters, observing the same patient performance, arrived at the same ratings strongly disagreed. Researchers add that they also validated the measure by ensuring that the results made sense based upon what is known clinically.

The release also notes that in an effort to assist clinicians in interpreting changes in AMU-ULA scores in patients, researchers analyzed the statistics to calculate how much of a change in the overall score could be considered more than just natural “noise” in the data.

Resnik adds that outcome measures are necessary in all areas of health care, but notes that this necessity resonates particularly in the area of prosthetic rehabilitation. Sensitive and responsive methods to objectively assess the benefits of prosthetic devices and training are key, she says. Resink also articulates her hope that clinicians may use this measure in the future to track how their patients are doing.

Source: Brown University