§ Mr. Richard Page
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now report further progress on the trial of the Swedish myoelectric hand for children; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Rossi
I am pleased to be able to announce that the trial of the Swedish myoelectric hand for children was formally concluded on 31 March. A final report of the trial has been prepared and I am placing a copy in the Library.
A myoelectric hand is a prosthesis which is activated by electric impulses in the muscles of the wearer's arm to which it is attached. The main conclusion of the report is that the hand is a valuable addition to the range of equipment available to clinicians. Its chief recommendations are as follows:
- i. that supply should continue to those who have taken part in the trial and should continue to be available for other young children (at age 3½-4½) as they present themselves;
- ii. supply should be extended to older children as the right sizes of hand become available from the present development programme, subject to clinical suitability;
- iii. the research and development programme should continue.
I am very happy to accept these recommendations.
During the course of the trial, 87 children have been fitted with this type of artificial arm with an acceptance rate of over 60 per cent. I pay a warm tribute to the organisations and individuals who have played a part in the trial and contributed to its success. A great deal of effort has been needed, and the results are encouraging. At the same time, as the report points out, this type of prosthesis does not provide the answer to all limb fitting problems. It is a very useful addition to the options already available and I endorse the recommendation that research and development should continue.
Looking to the future, good work has been done to ensure that follow-on sizes of hands of British manufacture are available. These will meet the needs of the growing children and, with time, extend the numbers of children to whom myoelectric hands can be offered. I am therefore confident that we shall be able to offer this type of provision to those children who can benefit from it, not as a panacea but as part of a comprehensive range of high quality care that we can and should offer to limbless children.