Variety - the Children's Charity Detroit is the founder of a very unique and integral program serving children with upper limb differences since 1981.
The Variety Myoelectric Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital is a unique and comprehensive program in North America that provides a doctor, prosthetist, occupational therapist and the necessary funding for equipment and therapy services to children with upper limb differences due to congenital or traumatic limb loss. With guidance from Dr. Edward Dabrowski of Beaumont Children’s and prosthetic care from Hanger clinic Livonia, this historically underserved population of children is provided with life-like, state-of-the-art myoelectric arms with hands that open and close, allowing them to use two hands to perform daily tasks.
Myoelectric limbs typically range between $25,000-$40,000 each. The recurring process of evaluating, fitting, creating, and providing therapy is a costly one. Often, families find that insurance companies deem myoelectric prostheses a “luxury”, preferring to cover a hook or nothing at all. Frequently, insurance companies will cover a single prosthesis, failing to provide the repeated coverage needed as the child grows and requires replacement prostheses.
Since 1981, Variety the Children’s Charity has been dedicated to facilitating this important program for each child from infancy through adolescence, providing financial assistance for the cost of the myoelectric arm components. A child who enters the program at infancy and continues through adolescence will routinely receive 8 arms, 64 protective and cosmetically appropriate skin-toned gloves, and experience appointments including clinical assessments, prosthetic builds and adjustments, and occupational therapy sessions. Without insurance or financial assistance, the cost of such comprehensive support far exceeds $300,000 for a single child from infancy through adolescence.
The select population of children with upper limb differences and their families often find that medical professionals fail to provide options, support and suggestions regarding prosthetic care and therapy. Often, families are advised that the child will compensate and may request prosthetic aid later in life. However, the specialists at the Variety Myoelectric Center offer a much more realistic, and encouraging, perspective: children who utilize a prosthetic device before the age of two are more likely to accept it as a useful limb. Those who are fit with a myoelectric prosthesis before the age of three and who also attend consistent therapy sessions in the months following are more likely to wear their myoelectric prosthesis every day with wear times of more than ten hours. They also experience significantly greater functional outcomes with their prosthesis according to functional criteria tests using the Skills Index Rating Scale (SIRS). As a result, the professionals at the Variety Myoelectric Center work to ensure optimum conditions for every child in her journey towards successful prosthetic wear and usage.
Children in the program regularly meet with the occupational therapist to facilitate the transition to daily wearing of the limb. The therapist introduces exercises, toys, and routines that require the child to utilize the new limb, and he works diligently to encourage toddlers and young children’s mobility while crawling, pulling up to stand, and walking. He also serves as a liaison between the family, the doctor, and prosthetist as he communicates his concerns and the child’s progress to all parties.
Children are fitted yearly as they grow, and the used prosthetic limb is then donated to the Variety Limb Bank, an exclusive collection of limbs, electronics and accessories which allows these functional limbs to be used again for children in need. Each child attends "clinic" yearly for reassessment and customized care for unique needs.
The Variety Myoelectric Center is an exceptional and rare program—unique only to Variety Detroit throughout all of North America. As the program enters its fifth decade, it is a truly innovative and comprehensive approach that serves a unique population that, otherwise, struggles to find such support and care.
To learn more about the Variety Myoelectric Center at Beaumont Children's, please click HERE.
To learn if your child may be a candidate for the Variety Myoelectric Center, please call 248-258-5511 or email Variety.
To support a child in need, please consider a donation online (please note #VMC) or call 248-258-5511.