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Choosing a prosthetic hook is both a personal and a practical decision. There are a variety of types of hooks and although they all provide the same basic function, some are designed to work better under specific circumstances. The best prosthetic hook will meet your individual needs and preferences in size, design, and comfort.
Typically, a prosthetic hook is a functional piece of equipment. Along with certain types of prosthetic hands and prehensors, a hook acts as a gripping mechanism for an amputee. Many daily activities can be completed with the use of a hook, including typing, tying shoelaces, and using a kitchen knife.
The prosthesis is actually made of two hooks, which fit closely together and can be opened and shut. Hooks are either body-powered or myoelectric-powered. A body-powered hook includes a tension cable which runs up into the holster. Extending the limb usually opens the grips. With practice, amputees have found this to be a very practical and usable system. Myoelectric prosthetic hooks use surface electrodes to detect muscle movement and transfer it to a battery operated prosthesis.
Some research indicates that body-powered hooks have more satisfying results than myoelectric- powered hooks. Myoelectric hooks occasionally have problems with reliability and sometimes do not respond immediately to muscular cues. The advantage to them is they provide very strong grip, up to 26 pounds (12 kilograms).
If possible, try out both a myoelectric and a body-powered prosthetic hook. You may find that you prefer one over the other. It is important to consider the hook's usability, but do not forget to compare the comfort and weight of the two. An uncomfortable or heavy prosthesis, even if it has other advantages, will make day to day activities uncomfortable.
The hook itself is usually made of steel or aluminum, in varying lengths and weights. The heavier hooks are used for heavy duty use. The light hooks are for light, day to day use. The inside of the hooks may be lined with rubber grips to increase friction, though some hooks have grooves on the metal surface instead of rubber.
Some hooks are designed with special needs in mind. For instance, a work hook is made to hold a broom or shovel handle, and may include a knife, nail, or screwdriver holder. There are also hooks especially sized for children. These are typically smaller and lighter than adult-sized hooks.
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