Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Farmers tough on artificial limbs

20.07.2012
Study finds that farmers and ranchers have unique prosthetic needs after an amputation

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.

Environment: Weather, dirt and rough terrain can be tough on prostheses, leading them to break more easily, according to the study. Farmers reported that prostheses sometimes get stuck in mud, caught in weeds and exposed to chemicals, rain, snow and extreme cold and heat. All farmers interviewed in this study avoided using myoelectric prostheses while on the job because of the risk of exposure to harsh environments.

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!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>