Neuromusculoskeletal Arm Prostheses: Personal and Social Implications of Living With an Intimately Integrated Bionic Arm
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2020
People with limb loss are for the first time living chronically and uninterruptedly with intimately integrated neuromusculoskeletal prostheses. This new generation of artificial limbs are fixated to the skeleton and operated by bidirectionally transferred neural information. This unprecedented level of human–machine integration is bound to have profound psychosocial effects on the individuals living with these prostheses. Here, we examined the psychosociological impact on people as they integrate neuromusculoskeletal prostheses into their bodies and lives. Three people with transhumeral amputations participated in this study, all of whom had been living with neuromusculoskeletal prostheses in their daily lives between 2 and 6 years at the time of the interview. Direct neural sensory feedback had been enabled for 6 months to 2 years. Participants were interviewed about their experiences living with the neuromusculoskeletal prostheses in their home and professional daily lives. We analyzed these interviews to elucidate themes using an interpretive phenomenological approach that regards participants’ own experiences as forms of expertise and knowledge-making. Our participant-generated results indicate that people adapted and integrated the technology into functional and social arenas of daily living, with positive psychosocial effects on self-esteem, self-image, and social relations intimately linked to improved trust of the prostheses. Participants expressed enhanced prosthetic function, increased and more diverse prosthesis use in tasks of daily living, and improved relationships between their prosthesis and phantom limb. Our interviews with patients also generated critiques of the language commonly used to describe human-prosthetic relations, including terms such as “embodiment,” and the need for specificity surrounding the term “natural” with regard to control versus sensory feedback. Experiences living with neuromusculoskeletal prostheses were complex and subject-dependent, and therefore future research should consider human–machine interaction as a relationship that is constantly enacted, negotiated, and deeply contextualized.
social studies of science and technology