I am a prosthetics and orthotics graduate, currently working at the University of Jordan with Dr. Mohammad Sobuh as a research assistant on the Fit4Purpose project. In this project, we are collaborating with our partners from the UCL, University of Southampton, University of Portsmouth, University of Salford and Makerere University (Uganda). In order to make sure that our hand and socket meet the needs of the prosthetic users we are talking to people in Jordan with upper limb loss. There are no statistics showing how many upper limb amputees there are in Jordan, but my best estimate is that there are several hundred. The main reason for upper limb loss here is trauma, such as road traffic accidents. There are also many refugees with limb loss who come here because of wars in Syria and other countries. The most noticeable thing about these is that many of them are young and hence their disability will have long lasting impacts on their future. We are capturing the different opinions and suggestions of a wide range of people with upper limb loss using a semi-structured interview.
Another part of my work on the project is exploring the actual use of prosthesis in real life. We are using acceleration-based activity monitors to track the upper limb amputees’ activity, while also asking users to tell us about the activities they are carrying out. This data could improve our understanding of the actual use of upper limb prostheses and when, where and why they choose to use or not use their prosthesis. Ultimately this work will not only help to demonstrate the value of such methods to clinicians such as myself, but also inform our future design of the prosthesis.
In order to finalise the study protocols and learn more about data analysis, I had the chance to visit our partners in the UK for two weeks. During the visit I learned about thematic analysis, a technique that is used for analyzing interview transcripts. We discussed some issues in the interviews regarding the cultural differences between countries and accordingly we improved the interview structure to fit better with the Jordanian culture. We also went through the activity monitoring protocol to make sure the data collection process is consistent across the three countries.
We are now in the process of finishing the interview study and are continuing to collect activity monitoring data here in Jordan and will keep you posted as we start to get the results.
In Jordan, as there are relatively few upper limb amputees, there is relatively little attention given to their needs, and the technology available to them is limited. This is what makes working in this project challenging and enjoyable. I have to say that it is a pleasure to work with this amazing international team. I hope that through this project we can develop the better prostheses for the amputees.