Assessing the prosthetic needs of farmers and ranchers with amputations

Kathryn E. Waldera, Craig W. Heckathorne, Margaret Parker, Stefania Fatone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Farmers and ranchers experience disabling injuries each year of which amputations account for 11%. Anecdotal evidence suggests that current prostheses may not be meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers with amputations. To better understand those prosthetic needs, a descriptive qualitative study was used to gather data with an engineering perspective. Method: Farmers with an upper- or lower-limb amputation were interviewed. Issues explored included current and past prostheses used, prosthetic failures, and ability to complete farm tasks using a prosthesis. Prosthetists providing services to this population were also interviewed to gain knowledge of specific devices and practises used in their geographic region. Results: Interviews with 40 farmers and 26 prosthetists revealed several common themes related to prostheses including durability/utility, environment, adaptation, cost, and education. Farmers and ranchers with amputations often made modifications to their prostheses, farm equipment, and daily routines in order to return to their vocation. Conclusions: Farmers and ranchers with amputations have distinct prosthetic needs. Their return to farming can be facilitated by creating more durable, affordable, and adaptable prosthetic components. Our results can help guide design of more comprehensive surveys for further information gathering and new devices and establish best prosthetic practises for farmers and those in other physically demanding professions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-212
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Agricultural injury
  • Amputation
  • Engineering
  • Farmer
  • Prosthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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