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The Variety Myoelectric Center offers families of children with limb deficiencies access to leading experts in children's prosthetics and pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation, as well as advanced pediatric occupational therapy services. The program is a partnership between Variety the Children's Charity-Detroit and Beaumont Children's. Variety the Children's Charity-Detroit is a children's charity with the mission of" simply helping kids no matter the need, and serving as a trusted local source to do what's right - changing our lives by changing theirs."

Experienced pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation physician

The medical director for the Variety Myoelectric Center is Edward Dabrowski, M.D, a pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialist with more than 30 years of experience. Dr. Dabrowski has worked with the Center for nearly as many years, helping hundreds of children gain access to myoelectric prostheses. He also serves as system director, Pediatric PM&R for Beaumont Children's.

In evaluating candidacy for the program, Dr. Dabrowski takes into account each child's medical history, neurological and physical status, any contraindications, family support and the child's motivation to accept a myoelectric arm.

Expert pediatric prosthetic consultants

Variety Myoelectric Center patients have access to a team of prosthetists with decades of experience in designing, building and fitting electronic limbs for children with upper limb differences. They are integral in determining the optimal piece of equipment for each patient, repairing the limb as needed and refitting as the child grows.

The specialty team of prosthetists at the Variety Myoelectric Center includes Carl Brenner, CPO; Robert Bacon, CP; and Joseph Brenner, CP. Over the last 30 years, the team has introduced several innovations into the prosthetic care of children, including:

  • completing the first successful fitting of a 12-month old infant with a two site/two function myoelectric prosthesis in 1985
  • using Variety Myoelectric Center electronic limb bank components to develop the prosthetic test modules needed to provide evidence-based documentation for insurance approval
  • initiating an expedited prosthetic delivery process to allow for the completion of a new electronic prosthesis and initial training (for out-of-state children) within five days
  • reducing the overall number of prostheses each child needs by developing laminated growth liners to increase the duration of the prosthetic fit

Beaumont Children's occupational therapists

Variety Myoelectric Center patients receive occupational therapy training through Beaumont Children's. Highly skilled children's occupational therapists create an individualized plans to help each child master the use of his or her artificial limb for play, school work and daily tasks. These therapists are nationally accredited, clinically certified and licensed. Many hold specialty certifications and all participate in pediatric specialty training courses, ensuring young patients have access to the most advanced evidence-based pediatric occupational therapy approaches and techniques.

Before the child receives the prostheses, the occupational therapist provides training to maintain range of motion and build strength in the residual upper extremity and trunk, along with preparatory activities to help the child receive the prosthetic arm fitting. Parental support and involvement is integral to the success of the child's adjustment to the prosthetic arm and the occupational therapists provide the education and information parents need to participate effectively.

After the child has received the prosthetic arm, the occupational therapist provides customized training to incorporate activities that are appropriate to the child's growth and developmental stages. The therapist trains the child in the use of the myoelectric hand through play and functional activities, teaching the child to use the myoelectric hand spontaneously to perform two-handed tasks.

Occupational therapy sessions usually take place two to three times per week in the initial phase, followed by weekly sessions from one to two months.