An overview and categorization of dynamic arm supports for people with decreased arm function

Loek A. Van Der Heide*, Bob van Ninhuijs, Arjen Bergsma, Gert Jan Gelderblom, Dick J. van der Pijl, Luc P. de Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Assistive devices that augment arm function were already introduced during the polio era. Devices are still being developed, but a review has not been performed thus far. Objective: To create an overview and categorize assistive devices facilitating arm function in activities of daily living for people with decreased arm function. Study design: Literature review. Methods: A systematic review in three scientific literature databases. Conference proceedings, assistive technology databases, and references were searched and experts consulted. This resulted in a database of dynamic arm supports. Product information was added, and the devices were categorized. Results: A total of 104 dynamic arm supports were found. These could be categorized as nonactuated devices (N = 39), passively actuated devices (N = 24), actively actuated devices (N = 34), or devices using the functional electrical stimulation principle (N = 7). Functionality analysis resulted in second-level categorization: tremor suppression, facilitation of anti-gravity movement, and assistance of specific joint motion. Conclusion: All devices could be ordered in a categorization of low complexity. Many have been developed; most have disappeared and have been succeeded by similar devices. Limitations of the devices found mainly concern interfacing and the range of motion facilitated. Future devices could make use of whatever residual strength is available in the users' arm for control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-302
Number of pages16
JournalProsthetics and orthotics international
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamic arm support
  • Orthotic devices
  • Self-help devices
  • n/a OA procedure


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