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I Lost My Arm And Wonder Whether I Need A Body Powered Or Cable Driven Prosthesis Or A Myoelectric Arm?

If you have lost an arm and are considering a prosthetic, you may be uncertain about which type of arm you need. Generally, prosthetic arms fall into two categories:

  1. body powered or cable driven, or
  2. myoelectric.

Fortunately, there are currently a lot of scientific advances being made in both types of arms, including more functionality, more natural looking prosthetics, and lighter weight prosthetics.

In a body-powered prosthetic limb, motion is delivered to the limb with a cable control system.

The cable may run from the prosthetic arm across the back around the healthy shoulder, or it could be harnessed to the wrist. The two most common types of body-powered hands are voluntary open and voluntary close. The body-powered system has several advantages.

These arms are typically lower cost, are simple to operate, and do not require much maintenance. However, the user typically needs to make abnormal movements to use the prosthetic hand, which can be uncomfortable for the amputee, and could eventually hurt the residual limb. 

They also can cause stress to the contralateral arm or shoulder. Also, some people may not be able to operate a body-powered prosthetic. They also usually don’t look as natural as myoelectric arms.

Myoelectric arms use electrical signals that are generated by your own muscles. They typically have sensors built into the prosthetic socket that receive electrical signals when the amputee uses specific muscles. Myoelectric arms use batteries and must be charged.

Myoelectric arms offer a lot of advantages to users. They are more comfortable, look more natural, and have a greater range of motion. However, they generally can’t tolerate a harsh environment, such as water.

If you have lost an arm and are wondering what type of arm you need, the answer is you probably need both.

They each perform different functions and are used in different situations. You may be in a situation in which you need a lightweight arm that can get wet. In another situation, you may need the larger range of motion the myoelectric arm provides.

But clearly, the myoelectric arm is a vastly superior device and in this day and age, is medically necessary for almost every amputee.

Although you may need both arms, it may be tough to get an insurance company to pay for two different types of arms. They may claim that only one arm is necessary to perform the functions of daily living, or that only one is medically necessary.  

They will almost always deny coverage for the myoelectric arm and approve coverage for the body powered arm. 

Can you guess why?  Well, the myoelectric arm is much more expensive. But you usually get what you pay for. Insurance companies will concoct all kinds of reasons to deny coverage for this medically necessary device because they typically value corporate profits over their insureds health.

If you believe that your insurance company is acting in bad faith in failing to pay for both prosthetics, even though you need both, call me, Amputation Lawyer Conal Doyle at 310-385-0567.

I am a amputee myself, and understand many of the issues that amputees face. Call me to learn more about pursuing payment for your prosthetic with your insurance company.

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