Technology that Touches Lives: Teleconsultation to Benefit Persons with Upper Limb Loss
While over 1.5 million individuals are living with limb lossin the United States (Ziegler-Graham et al., 2008), only 10% of these individuals have a loss that affects an upper limb. Coincident with the relatively low incidence of upper limb loss, is a shortage of the community-based prosthetic rehabilitation experts that can help prosthetic users to more fully integrate their devices into their daily routines. This article describes how expert prosthetists and occupational therapists at Touch Bionics, a manufacturer of advanced upper limb prosthetic devices, employ Voice over the Internet Protocol (VoIP) videoconferencing software telehealth technologies to engage in remote consultation with users of prosthetic devices and/or their local practitioners. The Touch Bionics staff provide follow-up expertise to local prosthetists, occupational therapists, and other health professionals. Contrasted with prior telephone-based consultations, the video-enabled approach provides enhanced capabilities to benefit persons with upper limb loss. Currently, the opportunities for Touch Bionics occupational therapists to fully engage in patient-based services delivered through telehealth technologies are significantly reduced by their need to obtain and maintain professional licenses in multiple states.
Dillingham, T. R., Pezzin, L. E., & MacKenzie, E. J. (2002). Limb amputation and limb deficiency: Epidemiology and recent trends in the United States. Southern Medical Journal, 95, 875–883.
Ziegler-Graham, K., MacKenzie, E.J., Ephraim, P.L., Travison, T.G., & Brookmeyer, R. (2008). Estimating the prevalence of limb loss in the United States - 2005 to 2050. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 89, 422-429.
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