Since 1981, the Variety Myoelectric Center has changed the lives of
hundreds of children with rare upper limb deficiencies from across the
country and around the world. A partnership between Variety the Children's Charity-Detroit and Beaumont Children's, the Center is the most comprehensive of its kind in the country.
Its primary purpose is to make lifelike myoelectric prosthetic arms
and hands available to all children who need them, regardless of their
insurance coverage or other ability to pay. It includes what may be the
nation's largest operating bank of children's prosthetic limb
components. This bank is what makes it possible for the Center to serve
children without adequate insurance coverage.
A myoelectric prosthesis is an external, battery-powered device that
substitutes for a missing arm and hand. "Myo" is the Greek term for
muscle. Hand motions in a myoelectric limb are controlled by electronic
sensors activated by muscles higher up the arm. A myoelectric prosthesis
provides children with the ability to grasp objects, tie shoes, cut
with scissors and perform many other activities that require two hands.
The Variety Myoelectric Center is based in Royal Oak, Michigan at
Beaumont Children's. The Center works with children and adolescents with
upper extremity amputations and deficiencies and their families to
provide evaluation, recommendation and assistance in obtaining a
myoelectric prosthesis. Services are available to children with various
levels of limb loss or deficiency.
In addition to offering access to myoelectric prostheses, the program
features occupational therapy (OT) to train children in the use of
their prosthetic devices in daily functional activities such as
dressing, handwriting and other fine motor skills. The Variety
Myoelectric Center is under the medical direction of Edward Dabrowski, M.D., who is also system director of Pediatric Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.
Clinic visits in Royal Oak provide families the opportunity to meet the Center's team,
which includes an expert pediatric physiatrist (a physician
specializing in children's rehabilitation), highly trained occupational
therapists and experienced pediatric prosthetists (experts in designing
and fitting artificial limbs for children).
An initial evaluation determines whether a child is an appropriate
candidate for an upper extremity prosthesis, specifically a myoelectric
prosthesis. Factors considered in determining candidacy include the
child's medical history, any contraindications, family support and the
child's motivation to accept a myoelectric arm, as well the availability
of sites for myoelectric signaling.
Once a child has been determined to be an appropriate candidate, he
or she will be fitted for an artificial electric hand or myoelectric arm
prosthesis. Once the child has received the prosthesis, he or she
attends occupational therapy for training, strengthening and the
development of the functional skills required to use the device.
Appointments are condensed into as short a period of time as possible to
accommodate families from outside Michigan.
Variety Myoelectric Center clinicians offer a tremendous wealth of
experience and dedication to serving children with disabilities. They
have evaluated children with upper extremity limb deficiencies from
across the globe, fitting them with several hundred electronic
prostheses. To accommodate growth, each child requires multiple
prostheses over the course of many years. The Center's expertise spans a
wide variety of limb deficiency types, prosthetic components,
evaluation and fitting and training techniques.