Effects and Effectiveness of Dynamic Arm Supports: A Technical Review

L.A. van der Heide*, G.J. Gelderblom, L.P. de Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Numerous dynamic arm supports have been developed in recent decades to increase independence in the performance of activities of daily living. Much effort and money have been spent on their development and prescription, yet insight into their effects and effectiveness is lacking. This article is a systematic review of evaluations of dynamic arm supports. The 8 technical evaluations, 12 usability evaluations, and 27 outcome studies together make 47 evaluations. Technical evaluations were often used as input for new developments and directed at balancing quality, forces and torques, and range of motion of prototypes. Usability studies were mostly single-measure designs that had varying results as to whether devices were usable for potential users. An increased ability to perform activities of daily living and user satisfaction were reported in outcome studies. However, the use of dynamic arm supports in the home situation was reported to be low. Gaining insight into why devices are not used when their developers believe them to be effective seems crucial for every new dynamic arm support developed. The methodological quality of the outcome studies was often low, so it is important that this is improved in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-62
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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