Unfortunately, about half of people with an upper-limb amputation suffer from phantom limb sensation, which is any sensation in the amputated part of the arm that makes the arm feel like it is still there. In some cases, the sensation is painful, but in other cases it is merely a sensation. It’s more common in people with an upper-limb amputation than a lower-limb amputation.
There is some evidence that a myoelectric prosthesis can reduce phantom sensations, especially if it is used actively. A myoelectric prosthesis is a prosthesis that is externally powered. Myoelectric prostheses are typically not only better with dealing with phantom limb pain, they also improve the cosmetic appearance of the limb, and are typically better for light-intensity work. Body-powered prostheses are another type, and they typically are more durable, require less training time, and are easier to clean.
Unfortunately, it’s usually not the amputee who decides which type of upper-limb prosthesis to get – it’s the insurance company. It’s very rare for an insurance company to agree to pay for both types of prostheses, even though each type of limb may be better in different situations. Myoelectric prostheses are normally much more expensive than a body-powered prosthesis, and an insurance company may balk at the cost.
If you have had a limb amputated and your insurance company refuses to pay for a certain type of prosthesis, call me, Amputation Lawyer Conal Doyle at 310-385-0567. I work with clients whose insurance companies are acting in bad faith in denying them the benefits to which they are entitled. Call today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.