National Limb Loss Information Center
Amputee Coalition of America

Resource Types:
ACA Articles
PubMed® Abstracts
Web Sites


Online Library
Find other related resources by searching our online library.
Search the NLLIC Library Catalog

Upper-Extremity Amputation

October 2007 (Revised 2009)

People with limb loss have particular information needs. Topic of the Month is a resource guide of information relevant to amputees. Click on the links below to access articles and Web sites directly. Many of the books and videos can be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.

Many more resources can be found by searching our online library. Please feel free to share this resource with those who may find this useful. We also welcome your comments and topic suggestions! Contact us via e-mail at

« View Other Topics

ACA Articles: Including NLLIC Fact Sheets, inMotion and First Step Articles

Advances in Upper-Extremity Socket Designs / Wayne Daly. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2003.  Article from inMotion, September / October 2003.  This article looks at new designs in sockets for upper extremity prostheses.

Are You Ready for a Prosthesis?  Advances in Arm Prosthetics / Harold H. Sears. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2001.  Article from First Step: A Guide for Adapting to Limb Loss, volume 2, 2001.  This article takes a look at all the latest advances in prosthetics for arm amputees. Topics covered include: new electronic components, body-powered developments and cosmetic covers, silicone hand covers, and fitting improvements for high-level shoulder amputees.

Enhancing Your Comfort and Function Through Upper-Extremity Socket Technology / Troy Farnsworth. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2004.  Article from inMotion, November / December 2004.  Upper-extremity sockets are examined in this article. Suspension methods, improving designs, caring for your socket and the optimal socket are all topics covered.

Facing Amputation Surgery: Upper Extremity / Sean Toren. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2001.  Article from First Step: A Guide for Adapting to Limb Loss, volume 2, 2001.  This article provides information for those who are about to undergo or have recently undergone amputation surgery. Topics covered include the prosthesis, and getting back to a normal, productive lifestyle after amputation.

Facing Amputation Surgery: Assistive Devices Give Upper-Extremity Amputees a Helping Hand / Rick Bowers. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2001.  Article from First Step: A Guide for Adapting to Limb Loss, volume 2, 2001.  This article looks at simple and complex products that make life easier for prosthetic and nonprosthetic users.

The Future is Now / Élan Young. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2007. Article from inMotion, November / December 2007. This article examines two upper-extremity amputees, Claudia Mitchell and Jessie Sullivan (bilateral), who participate in testing of the experimental nerve transfer procedure called Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) that can lead to more control in motorized myoelectric prostheses.

How to Ride a Motorcycle With Parts Missing (On You, Not the Bike): Adaptive Modifications for Amputee Motorcycling / Jeffrey J. Cain, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), 2006.  Article from inMotion, May / June 2006.  Amputees don’t have to give up their passion for motorcycling. This article discusses adaptive motorcycle modifications for both lower- and upper-limb amputees, to get bike enthusiasts back on the road.

Notes from the Medical Director: Grasping the Importance of Our Hands / Douglas G. Smith, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2006. Article from inMotion, November / December 2006.  This introduction to a series on upper extremity limb loss tells us that hands perform a variety of intricate functions for a person. Dr. Smith discusses how and why hands help give identity and purpose to life, and introduces the topics of body image, surgery, pain and prosthetics as they relate to people with upper extremity limb loss and limb difference.

Notes From the Medical Director: Partial-Hand Amputations / Douglas G. Smith, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2007. Article from inMotion, January / February 2007.  Dr. Smith discusses different aspects of finger and partial hand amputation including function and surgical considerations.

Notes from the Medical Director: Introduction to Upper-Limb Prosthetics: Part 1 / Douglas G. Smith, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2007. Article from inMotion, March / April 2007. Part 1 in a series on upper extremity amputees (UEA), Dr. Smith looks at the function of upper-limb prostheses, the role of the prostheses vs. residual limb and the individual choice that every UEA makes about when or whether to use a prosthesis.

Notes From the Medical Director: Upper-Limb Prosthetics: Part 2: Insights From Those Who Have Lost One Arm/ Douglas G. Smith, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2007. Article from inMotion, July / August 2007. The second article from Dr. Smith on upper-extremity prostheses profiles three unilateral amputees with different levels of amputation (below elbow, above elbow, and shoulder) and their prostheses of choice.  Myoelectric, body powered, and hybrid prostheses are highlighted.

Notes From the Medical Director: Upper-Limb Prosthetics: Part 3: Insights About the Loss of Both Arms/ Douglas G. Smith, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2007. Article from inMotion September / October 2007.  Part 3 of Dr. Smith’s series on upper-limb prosthetics discusses the impact of bilateral upper-limb loss and how this experience is unique for those who are born with no hands or arms.  Children who have congenital bilateral upper limb-loss will benefit from learning to accomplish everyday tasks with their legs and feet as well as using prostheses.

Notes From the Medical Director: Upper-Limb Prosthetics: Part 4: Insights About Acquired Loss of Both Arms / Douglas G. Smith, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2008. Article from inMotion, March / April 2008. Dr. Smith uses Homer Parrish, a character from the 1946 film, "The Best Years of Our Lives," to illustrate the adjustment process and challenges of adapting to the amputation of both arms.

Prosthetic Primer: Upper-Extremity Limb Fitting / Gerald Stark. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2001.  Article from inMotion, July / August 2001. Upper-extremity prosthetic fitting presents a variety of unique challenges to the prosthetist and client alike. Unlike other prosthetic levels that are more passive in nature, upper-extremity prostheses require a high degree of function for gripping and lifting objects. At the same time, because the upper extremity is more visible, cosmetic concerns are more significant. Unfortunately, these cosmetic allowances also affect overall function, so a balance between the two must be established.

Surviving in a Two-Handed World / Rick Bowers. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2001. Article from inMotion, July / August 2001. This article looks at two bilateral upper-extremity amputees who have learned to take their lives into their own "hands" and live independently.  

Swept Off Your Feet / John P. Foppe. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2006. Article from inMotion, January / February 2006.  John Foppe is a motivational speaker, a disability coach, and was born without arms. In this article, Foppe discusses how he overcame his own emotional barriers and fear of rejection. He tells the reader how he and his wife met and started their relationship.

Technology and the Human Hand: The State of the Art in Artificial Hands, Hooks and Prehensors / Rick Bowers. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2002. Article from inMotion, November / December 2002. This article takes a close look at the latest technology for upper-extremity prostheses and terminal devices.

Update on Hand Transplantation: A Potential Option / By Christina L. Kaufman, PhD, Brenda Blair, RN, and Warren B. Breidenbach, MD. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2006. Article from inMotion, November/December 2006. A report on four hand transplants done at Kleinert, Kutz and Associates in Louisville, Kentucky-- the only program in the United States that offers clinical trials of hand transplantation. The outcome of hand transplantation in these four patients gives a good representation of what someone could expect from hand transplantation with respect to function, cosmetic appearance and adverse events, or what can go wrong after hand transplantation.

Upper-Limb Prosthetic Components: Function vs. Appearance / William Hanson. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2003. Article from inMotion, November / December 2003.  There are a variety of terminal devices for upper-extremity prosthetic users. In order to determine which device is best for the individual, function and appearance are two important considerations. This article takes a closer look at these considerations.

Will Human Hand Transplants Become Standard Practice? Lead Surgeon in First Successful Transplant is Hopeful / By Scott McNutt. Knoxville, TN: Amputee Coalition of America, 2006. Article from inMotion, November/December 2006.  Lead surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach performs replantations and transplantations, raising awareness about transplantations and working to reduce the immunosuppression agents involved with the procedure to make hand transplants more viable.

Back to Top


Adapt My World: Homemade Adaptations for People With Disabilities / J. Rose Plaxen. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks Press, 2005. ISBN: 1-931643-70-9. This book offers many tips for adapting activities and household items to initiate independence for children and adults with a variety of disabilities.  Many tips are appropriate to help upper-limb prosthesis wearers and non-prosthetic wearers perform daily tasks and hygiene.

Amputeddy Meets Nubby Bear / Katie Policani and Jean Boelter; illustrations by Marta Creswell. [ Seattle: WA], Amputeddy Inc, [200-]. In this children’s picture book, Todd shares experiences with a bear who was born with only part of her right arm.

Atlas of Amputations and Limb Deficiencies: Surgical, Prosthetic, and Rehabilitation Principles / American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; edited by Douglas G. Smith, John W. Michael, and John H. Bowker. 3rd edition. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2004. ISBN 0-89203-313-4. This atlas is a comprehensive reference on the surgical, prosthetic and rehabilitative management of adults and children who have lost a limb or who have congenital limb loss. This source contains many images and illustrations.

Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57 by Michael Weisskopf.  New York, NY : Henry Holt and Company, 2006. ISBN: 0-8-5-7860-6. Time magazine Iraq War correspondent Michael Weisskopf was riding through Baghdad when he lost his right hand below the elbow.  He was treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center alongside injured soldiers. This is a chronicle of the devastation and recovery of his journey as well as fellow patients.

The Handbook: Information for New Upper-Extremity Amputees, Their Families, and Friends / by Richard L. Mooney. Lomita, CA: Mutual Amputee Aid Foundation, 1995.  This booklet talks about the pre-surgical period, the actual surgery, the immediate post-surgical period, early post-surgical period, pre-prosthetic preparation, and more issues concerning the upper limb amputee. Furthermore, it provides some real life experiences of amputees, mentions renowned arm amputees, gives advice on "the rest of your lives" and offers a list of further reading and resources.

The Making of My Special Hand: Madison's Story / Jamee Riggio Heelan; illustrations by Nicola Simmonds. 1st ed. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, c1998. ISBN 1-56145-186-X. This illustrated book tells the story of Madison, a little girl, in a first-person narrative. It explains the processes of getting a prosthesis from a child's point of view. Even though the pictured child is very young, the book can be used up to pre-school aged children. (2-5 years.)

One-Hand Typing and Keyboarding Manual: With Personal Motivational Messages and Anecdotes from Others Who Have Overcome! / Lilly Walters. Glendora, CA: Royal CBS Pub., c2001. ISBN 0-934344-54-X. With the use of either the right, or left hand, this manual will teach the reader to type on a standard keyboard, with the normal keys everyone else uses. Within 1-3 weeks of working through the drills in this manual, the reader is ready to step into any mainstream program to learn typing.

Powered Upper-Limb Prostheses / Ashok Muzumdar, editor. Berlin; New York: Springer, c2004.  ISBN 3-540-40406-6.  This book deals with the concept, implementation and clinical application of powered upper-limb prostheses. The book has over 150 illustrations and contains an extensive bibliography.

Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity / editors, Evelyn J. Mackin [et al.]. 5th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, c2002. ISBN 0-323-01094-6.  This is the latest edition of the definitive work on hand therapy, combining information on both surgical and nonsurgical methodologies. Contributors to the book include leading hand surgeons and leading authorities in hand therapy.

Who is Amelia?: Caring for Children With Limb Deficiencies / Hugh G. Watts and Mary Williams Clark. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1998. ISBN 0-89203-179-4. This book is written by two distinguished physicians who treat pediatric patients with congenital limb difference. This book is designed to help physicians increase their awareness and comfort level when faced with the uniqueness of their own patients and the special care needed to help these children and their families cope.

Back to Top

PubMed® Abstracts

Abstracts of these articles are available via PubMed®, a service of the United States National Library of Medicine®.

Coping, Affective Distress, And Psychosocial Adjustment Among People with Traumatic Upper Limb Amputations/ by DM Desmond. England: Pergamon Press, 2007.  Citation to article: Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2007 Jan;62(1):15-21.

Evaluation of Arm and Prosthetic Functioning in Children with a Congenital Transverse Reduction Deficiency of the Upper Limb/ by LM Buffart … [et al.]  Sweden: Swedish Foundation of Rehabilitation Information, 2007. Citation to article: Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine: Official Journal of the UEMS European Board of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2007 May;39(5):379-86.

Evaluation of the Validity of the Prosthetic Upper Extremity Functional Index for Children / FV Wright ... [et al.]. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders, 2003.  Citation to article: Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2003 Apr;84(4):518-27.

Multiplier Method for Limb-Length Prediction in the Upper Extremity / By D Paley... [et al.]. United States: Churchill Livingstone, 2008. Citation to article The Journal of Hand Surgery     2008 Mar;33(3):385-391. 

Neural Machine Interfaces for Controlling Multifunctional Powered Upper-Limb Prostheses / by K Ohnishi, RF Weir and TA Kuiken. England: Future Drugs LTd, 2007. Citation to article: Expert Review of Medical Devices. 2007 Jan;4(1):43-53. Review.

Pediatric Upper Extremity Conditions: Traumatic and Congenital/ by JA Katarincic.
Rhode Island, US: Rhode Island Medical Society, 2007. Citation to article: Medicine and Health, Rhode Island. 2007 Apr;90(4):108-10.

Pediatric Upper Extremity Replantation / JY Kim, RJ Brown and NF Jones. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders, 2005. Citation to article: Clinics in Plastic Surgery. 2005 Jan;32(1):1-10, vii.

The Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI) and Functional Assessment of Patients With Unilateral Upper Extremity Deficiencies / JA Lerman ... [et al.]. New York: Raven Press, 2005.  Citation to article: Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics. 2005 May-Jun; 25(3):405-7.

Prescription of the First Prosthesis and Later Use in Children with Congenital Unilateral Upper Limb Deficiency: A Systematic Review/ Meurs M … [et al]. Hellerup, Denmark: International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, 2006. Citation to article: Prosthetics and Orthotics International. 2006 Aug;30(2):165-73.

A Robust, Real-Time Control Scheme for Multifunction Myoelectric Control / K. Englehart and B. Hudgins. New York: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2003.  Citation to article: IEEE Transactions on Bio-medical Engineering. 2003 Jul;50(7):848-54.

Self-Delivered Home-Based Mirror Therapy for Lower Limb Phantom Pain / BD Darnall.  United States: Association of Academic Physiatrists, 2009. Citation to article: Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2009 Jan; 88(1):78-81.

Treatment of Congenital Upper Extremity Problems/ DTNetscher and MA Baumholtz.
United States: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007. Citation to article: Plastic Reconstructive Surgery. 2007 Apr 15;119(5):101e-129e. Review.

Upper-Extremity Limb Salvage With Microvascular Reconstruction in Patients With Advanced Sarcoma / JY Kim ... [et al.]. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004.  Citation to article: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2004 Aug;114(2):400-8; discussion 409-10.

Back to Top


Armed For the Challenge / ARK Films and Loma Linda University present ; directed by Patricia Thio and Kent Allison. Loma Linda, Calif.: PossAbilities: Distributed by Inland Empire Health Plan, [2007]. DVD. One man's story of surviving and thriving as an above elbow amputee. Iron Man athlete Willie Stewart trains to compete in the physically challenged Triathlon USA competition.

Bilateral Shoulder Disarticulation: Self-Care and Use of Complementary Hybrid Prostheses. Chicago: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, c1993.  VHS. Demonstrates life skills of an individual who lost both shoulders and arms after an electrical accident. Demonstrates the use of hybrid prostheses to perform basic functions, including hygiene, eating, driving a car, and work.

Child Care With Bilateral Transradial Amputations. Chicago, IL: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 1995. VHS. Jeff Gaines, a bilateral below-elbow amputee, demonstrates how he is completely independent in caring for his young children. He uses both body-powered and externally powered prostheses to prepare baby bottles, feed the baby, take off the baby's jacket, change diapers, and place the baby in a stroller and car seat. Although Jeff learned to take care of his baby with the body-powered prosthesis and split hooks he was initially fitted with, he prefers his myoelectric prostheses for these activities and now uses his myoelectrics full-time.

Farming With an Upper-Extremity Amputation / producer/director, John Schweitzer, Sheri McCormick. West Lafayette, IN: Breaking New Ground Resource Center, Purdue University, [1995]. VHS. In this video, farmers speak of their experiences losing a limb and how they adjusted their routines to keep living fulfilled lives. They also discuss phantom pain, family support, and the use of prosthetics, and tools.

The Guy With the Hook Video Tutorials available online at
       Body Powered Prosthesis Holding A Knife/ Sean McHugh, 2007.
       Body Powered Prosthesis Opening A Jar/ Sean McHugh, 2007.
       Body Powered Prosthesis Shirt & Tie/ Sean McHugh, 2007.
       Body Powered Prosthesis Shoe Tying/ Sean McHugh, 2007.
       Body Powered Prosthesis Turn A Car Key/ Sean McHugh, 2007.
       Prosthetic Maintenance: Changing the Hook Bands/ Sean McHugh, 2008.
       Prosthetic Options: Body Powered Prosthesis/ Sean McHugh, 2007.
       Prosthetic Options: A Device for Using in the Gym/ Sean McHugh, 2008.
       Prosthetic Options: Finish and Artwork/ Sean McHugh, 2007.
       Prosthetic Options: Myoelectric Hook and Hand/ Sean McHugh, 2007.

No Arms Needed: A Hero Among Us / Advanced Medical Production, Inc.  Cicero, NY: Program Development Associates, 2003.  DVD. This documentary follows Marty Ravellette, who was born without arms.  He has spent his life using his feet to perform tasks that most of us accomplish with our hands.  He eats and drinks, lights and smokes his cigarettes, drives a van, dresses himself, shoots pool, and fishes. Marty’s story is about self-determination, discrimination, advocacy and inclusion.

Prosthetic Fitting and Self-Care Skills in Bilateral Above-Elbow Traumatic Amputee / Chicago, IL: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago 1992. VHS.  Jack Uellendahl discusses the details of a patient’s arm prosthetics, including how the amputee takes a shower, uses the restroom, shaves and gets dressed.

The Use of Upper-Extremity Prostheses / Art Heinze. Thief River Falls, MN: Dynamic Rehab Videos and Rentals, [19--].  DVD and VHS. Art Heinze has both above- and below-elbow amputations and is the Director of Occupational Therapy at Northwest Medical Center in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. In this video, Art discusses psychosocial adjustment to amputation and levels of amputation, and demonstrates types and parts of body-powered prostheses, how the prosthesis works, and activities of daily living. This video shows Art functioning in a variety of real-life situations. It's instructional for families, therapists, nurses, doctors, counselors and prosthetists.

Back to Top

Web Sites & Organizations

American Society of Hand Therapists.  Chicago, IL. Their mission is to “advance the science of hand therapy through communication, education, advocacy, research and clinical standards.” Bill Baughn. 1996-. Use this Web site’s electronic mailing list to find information and support for adults with congenital or acquired upper-limb difference or chat online with other arm amputees.

Association of Children's Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics (ACPOC). Rosemont, IL: ACPOC, 2001. ACPOC is an association of professionals who are involved in clinics that provide prosthetic-orthotic care for children with limb loss or orthopaedic disabilities.

Farming With an Arm Amputation / AgrAbility. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University, 2001. This AgrAbility Tip Sheet on reducing potential for secondary injuries, has many tips for UEA farmers.

Helping Hands Foundation.  Medfield, MA: Helping Hands Foundation, 2002-.  Helping Hands Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit support group made up of parents who have children with upper-limb differences and who are concerned with the challenges facing the child and the entire family.

International Child Amputee Network I-CAN! / Bill Baughn. 1996-. This Web site contains information about an Internet mailing list that provides information and support contacts to children with absent or underdeveloped limbs and their parents. an online resource for families and friends of children with limb differences. [United States]:, 2002-. This site is a continuation of the Web site and newsletter. The site aims to provide practical information as well as emotional support for families and friends of children with limb differences.

Superhands: For Kids and Adults with Hand and Upper Limb Differences / developed by Steve Geigle. [United States: s.n., 199-]-.  Superhands is a forum for anyone to learn about and network with adults and youth who have hand or upper limb differences.

Back to Top Last updated: 03/23/2009