When a farmer or rancher is injured on the job, there's an 11 percent chance that an amputation will occur. That's two and a half times more likely than in any other industry.
Most of these amputations involve fingers or toes. But the artificial hands, arms, legs, feet and other prostheses used by agricultural workers with a major limb amputation don't seem to be durable, affordable or adaptable enough for their lifestyles, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.
Published online in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, this is the first study to provide detailed information on the limitations facing farmers and ranchers with prosthetics.
The study is part of a larger research project at the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center that aims to design educational materials tailored to the specific needs of farmers and ranchers with amputations and work with prosthesis manufacturers to develop and reengineer more robust products and components.
"We are also exploring how products created for people with amputations in developing countries may benefit farmers and ranchers here in the U.S.," said Craig Heckathorne, research engineer in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and second author of the study.
Results of this ongoing research could benefit people with amputations who work in other physically demanding professions such as the military, construction, forestry, commercial fishing, mining and manufacturing.
"There are lot of issues and challenges to farming with a prosthesis," said Stefania Fatone, research associate professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Feinberg and corresponding author of the study. "They often need to climb ladders and silos, lift bags of feed and seed and walk on uneven terrain, in all kinds of weather conditions. Also, a dairy farmer may have very different needs than a corn farmer or cattle rancher."
Heckathorne and Kathryn Waldera, research engineer in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Feinberg and lead author of the study, conducted intensive one-on-one interviews with 40 American farmers and ranchers with amputations to gather information about how current and past prostheses were used, prosthetic failures and their ability to complete farm tasks while using a prosthesis. They also interviewed 26 prosthetists, who provide services to farmers and ranchers. Prosthetists are trained health care professionals who design and fit prostheses to help people with limb loss function more fully.The study found that the common problems farmers and ranchers face revolve around these themes:
Durability: Lack of durability and utility was the major theme identified by this study. Farmers report breaking bolts when jumping, lifting or performing other on-the-farm tasks. Many reported using their prosthesis as a tool to carry out work on the farm, too. Farmers' prostheses seem to deteriorate faster and fail more frequently than those of non-farmers with amputations, the study found.Safety: Farmers reported many falls and secondary injuries due to use of their prosthesis. Researchers found that many safety problems may be related to durability issues.
Adaptation: Many farmers said they chose to use a prosthesis as an adaption to address the challenges of farming after an amputation. But, a modern-day prosthesis is not a complete replacement for an intact limb. Farmers reported having to make additional changes in routines, farm equipment and in attitude to successfully return to farming after an amputation.
Cost: Prostheses are expensive, and farmers and the prosthetists who work with them reported that medical insurance coverage for the devices is often inadequate. Some farmers report having no insurance or high deductable insurance because they are self-employed or a small business owner. The high cost of the devices may drive some farmers to repair their own prosthesis or go without a replacement, which could affect durability and safety. Some farmers in rural areas have to travel great distances to get to a prosthetist's clinic, which also adds to costs.
Education: Prosthetists are not typically trained about the needs and lifestyles of farmers and ranchers and may prescribe inappropriate prosthetic choices, according to the study. Some farmers indicated that they were not consistently educated and trained on the operation of their device. However, some prosthetists reported that farmers had unrealistic expectations of their prosthesis.
These findings have provided a framework for an even larger study on this issue, the researchers said. They are currently recruiting farmers and ranchers with amputations from across the United States to take part.
Erin White | EurekAlert!
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons
The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences