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Background: Co-contraction is the simultaneous activation of agonist and antagonist muscles that produces forces around a joint. It is unknown if the use of a wrist-driven 3D printed transitional prostheses has any influence on the neuromuscular motor control strategies of the affected hand of children with unilateral upper-limb reduction deficiencies. Thus, the purpose of the current investigation was to examine the coactivation index (CI) of children with congenital upper-limb reduction deficiencies before and after 6 months of using a wrist-driven 3D printed partial hand prosthesis.
Methods: Electromyographic activity of wrist flexors and extensors (flexor carpi ulnaris and extensor digitorum) was recorded during maximal voluntary contraction of the affected and non-affected wrists. Co-contraction was calculated using the coactivation index and was expressed as percent activation of antagonist over agonist. Nine children (two girls and seven boys, 6 to 16 years of age) with congenital upper-limb deficiencies participated in this study and were fitted with a wrist-driven 3D printed prosthetic hand. From the nine children, five (two girls and three boys, 7 to 10 years of age) completed a second visit after using the wrist-driven 3D printed partial hand prosthesis for 6 months.
Results: Separate two-way repeated measures ANOVAs were performed to analyze the coactivation index and strength data. There was a significant main effect for hand with the affected hand resulting in a higher coactivation index for flexion and extension than the non-affected hand. For wrist flexion there was a significant main effect for time indicating that the affected and non-affected hand had a significantly lower coactivation index after a period of 6 months.
Conclusion: The use of a wrist-driven 3D printed hand prosthesis lowered the coactivation index by 70% in children with congenital upper limb reduction deficiencies. This reduction in coactivation and possible improvement in motor control strategies can potentially improve prosthetic rehabilitation outcomes.
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Zuniga, J.M., Dimitrios, K., Peck, J.L. et al. Coactivation index of children with congenital upper limb reduction deficiencies before and after using a wrist-driven 3D printed partial hand prosthesis. J NeuroEngineering Rehabil 15, 48 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12984-018-0392-9
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