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Category: Neurology, sociology and psychology

User perspective on the rubber hand illusion in a wider sense – prosthetic arm and ownership for real use [reflection and consideration]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - User perspective on the rubber hand illusion in a wider sense – prosthetic arm and ownership for real use [reflection and consideration]; published January 2, 2019, 22:16; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8882.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - User perspective on the rubber hand illusion in a wider sense – prosthetic arm and ownership for real use [reflection and consideration]}}, month = {January},year = {2019}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8882}}


The year 2018 was interesting in relation to the rubber hand illusion subject.

I had participated in an extensive interview study regarding embodiment just a year before [link]. Then, I had been identified as a prosthesis "super user" [link] - these people wanted to investigate my type of "embodiment" through fMRI, but we quickly identified my prosthetic arm design (not my brain) as the key aspect regarding the question of why I have a prosthesis that I can actually use rather than just pose with as so many others. My own view here clearly is that if you are after embodiment, you have to go all Sherlock Holmes, you have to go all forensic, all CSI and all crime mystery: and as in "cherchez la femme" when looking for a motive in a crime, it is "cherchez le bras" when studying embodiment: for all issues that center around prosthetic use, go for the core physical aspects first. There are extremely bad things that may, can, and will happen if you do not make that your real first priority. The "rubber hand illusion" is an extreme variation of body ownership of a rubber hand that does not even touch a person and still that person thinks they are being touched if that rubber hand is touched. The illusion to make an amputee believe they embody or bodily own a prosthetic hand is quite different. But both pose risks, whereas the risk that an amputee faces when getting a prosthetic arm that is integrated into his body image has not been considered yet. My slightly experience based consideration proposes that the body image is tyrannically governed, for good and for bad, and if the prosthetic body part - already starting with bad cards, body image wise - craps out, and it always does so far too often, then it draws the hot red angry ire, the depressed disappointment, the falling apart of the cyborg body, of the amputee - and definitely not the cool "oh a neutral object just disintegrated" that one will wish for from a societal, insurance or repair view. The integration into a body image brings with it that the device becomes subject to totally tyranically governed bodies. When it is difficult enough to make any device ready for real world usage, making it ready to survive tyrannies of that nature will be even harder. I proposed an unforgiving approach to failure testing in a recent paper (link) but I cannot say that paper has been greeted with any enthusiasm by the industry that actually builds prosthetic arm components. Because they get to directly face the anger, hate, and rejection of all the users that they had not informed well of just how fragile their prosthetic arm parts really are (link), and they are in absolutely no position to technically improve these parts. So, manufacturers go into hiding. They do not want many users - they want users that buy and do not complain. The last thing they need is a hard bright unforgiving look into just how bad their engineering is. Every non-user, every rejector, should be cautiously left alone, not recruited to wear a prosthesis - because the risk is considerable (link). Researchers currently have the problem that amputees run away, everywhere (link), also because we are continously treated as mentally incompetent. So in essence, we are a group of people that increasingly realizes the extent to which we are being fooled, being had, told stories, and increasingly, we are getting critical. Potential rubber hand illusion switches, dragged to market to be soldered into prosthetic arms, if ever they are a medical treatment or a part thereof, will have negative effects as well: what are these? What do we know about deeply problematic aspects of bodily ownership? I had been invited to talk about that aspect for a group of people interested in robotic control and user interfaces, on December 7th 2018, in Mannheim (Germany). The presentation that I gave now is typed out here in more detail for further reference.

Rubber hand illusion is an idea that, by and large, was somehow transformed into multi-sensory rubber hand illusion, and they now want to put it into prosthetic arms to make users believe the prosthesis belongs to their bodies.

With that, rubber hand illusion goes to market1)As in: piggy goes to market..

This is not really that fascinating. While I am not interested in prosthetic arms because I find the field fascinating, I have been drawn into the field due to circumstances. And as much as you feel that I am locked into this constraint space of shared idiocies, dreams, hopes and failing hardware together with you, in some type of brotherhood by bad fate, you may also realize you are locked into this with me, as consequence of bad fate. Those then are also circumstances. As I deal with it, you may also have to find a way. If you think that is uncomfortable, send me a mail, so we may talk about uncomfortable a bit.

The ultimate consquence of this piece of reflection is not at all bad, however. We will see just how too much "ownership" has bad aspects as well. It risks to slip prosthetic hands into a domain where it is subject to the most vicious decision making that there is: tyrannic and wilful, impulsive and emotional decision making within one's own very personal domain of body or body image with owned body part dependent urgencies and requirements. To withstand these storms, a  prosthetic arm has to withstand not only the physical requirements of real life use (which it normally does not to a degree that will make your jaw drop), it also has to be acknowledged in that capacity by manufacturers and care-givers, emergency teams or repair units, where none of similarly urgencies are currently provided.

To even reach a level of "tool", to be useful enough to be accepted as technical solution (not as embodied "owned" limb), a typical prosthetic arm may have to undergo a most serious metamorphosis, from commercial parts (link)(link) to tuned and optimized parts (link). If you are in R&D and want to do something good in support of arm amputees, it may be relevant to address actual issues such as failing devices or phantom pain (link), before going all out on a limb and drag ill-defined concepts to a domain where they may wreck more than they really help.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. As in: piggy goes to market.

Embodiment of a prosthetic arm [reflections, thoughts, considerations]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Embodiment of a prosthetic arm [reflections, thoughts, considerations]; published September 16, 2018, 15:42; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8513.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Embodiment of a prosthetic arm [reflections, thoughts, considerations]}}, month = {September},year = {2018}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8513}}


So, apparently I had been "identified" as a "super prosthesis user" by a group of researchers. And I was invited to talk about embodiment in context of the "rubber hand illusion" at a user interface or robotic control workshop [link].

So is that what I am: a "user"?

Tsk.

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Visualizing a Broken Body - Cyborg art implications for visual and functional prosthetic design [art, cultural reflection]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Visualizing a Broken Body - Cyborg art implications for visual and functional prosthetic design [art, cultural reflection]; published July 10, 2015, 19:30; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=4880.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Visualizing a Broken Body - Cyborg art implications for visual and functional prosthetic design [art, cultural reflection]}}, month = {July},year = {2015}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=4880}}


Introduction

It has been remarked by individuals that believe of themselves to be quite observant - such as - that a prosthetic hook is, culturally, referencing "Captain Hook", such as Geoffrey Ling, and although we cannot think greatly of people that spit on established, proven and functioning prosthetic devices, we can try to see where they come from. What they do is look at popular culture to shape their unreflected but acid critique.

chook

Their problem is only, that they do not keep looking at popular culture. They just go half way to name Captain Hook (if they go that far at all) in talking bad about hook devices, when really they do not consider popular culture all the way. If at all, they should do that with heart and with focus. How can I believe any researchers that talks down to me, as a hook user, by referring to terms such as "arcane" and "Captain Hook", when they are culturally unaware? Because when they are sloppy with their pop culture, what tells me they are not totally sloppy with their "technical" work? Alright, one glance at the edgy iLimb hand and torn up gloves and we know that answer. After all, if one is to look at pop culture, it is not just about extending research programs for preconceived ideas that end up without accessible devices on a small market, is it. It is not just about trying to sell "bionic" hands that may be just about as useful as a bugger in the nose (but cost more). It is about actually trying to understand what that popular culture can tell us were one to go that way, all the way.

And Captain Hook is the earliest pop culture "cyborg" in that he, in some way, integrates human body and technology under a new umbrella identity, that of "Captain Hook". As a famous tweet proposed: if he was given a prosthetic hand, he'd be "Captain Hand". Would have been quite a game changer, that.

Analysis of popular culture imagery and their significance for amputees

The way a damaged body is visualized both when in despair, when suffering damage or disintegration or loss, and when it is at ease, repaired, is present throughout our cultures.

So we can not only look at what the non-disabled public believes in when portraying damage or loss. We can also have a close look at visual elements of recovered, re-established people, and here, people that are "bound" to repair type technology.

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Home of the Brave (2006) [movie portrayal of right below elbow amputee issues]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Home of the Brave (2006) [movie portrayal of right below elbow amputee issues]; published August 17, 2011, 00:30; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=471.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Home of the Brave (2006) [movie portrayal of right below elbow amputee issues]}}, month = {August},year = {2011}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=471}}


I watched the movie Home of the Brave (2006) (summary in German / English) and still feel nauseous and wretched from that. That movie hit too close to home. That is because Jessica Biel really nailed it. It was not just good. It was so good I almost puked.

And that is relevant, because the portrayal of (possibly faked or real) arm amputees in movies matters.

Even more so because it seems like she just takes a (part of a) 100 minute walk through some of the more uncomfortable if not painful aspects of (also) my life, she manages to plug in some of the real monsters that populate(d) my daily roller coaster of my life, switch them on, wiggle them a bit - and after that, and in all beauty and elegance, she manages to walk out of the movie and into her own perfect actress world. There, she als is married to Justin Timberlake.

She even said in an interview that "it is work, you get there, you get emotional, you do your thing, you have got to let go and move on to the next scene".

She must be an acting machine, managing that dive-in and dive-out with real elegance. Leaving everyone else trying to get some fresh air and wonder why some buttons of their jacket still remain stuck in the button holes - despite even having a prosthetic arm. Great acting, absolutely great work - but, phew. What is going on with her.

But I anticipate too much, too early. Let me write in temporal sequence.

In that movie, Biel plays Vanessa Price. Vanessa gets injured in Iraq, loses her right arm below the elbow and the story then shows how she deals with some situations as a recently amputated right below elbow amputee who happened to also have lost her dominant hand. Wait, she lost what? Screw it. I knew why I felt this concerns me too.

Get it here:

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Stigmatization and demonization VII - proper attitude [that's how it's done]

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Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigmatization and demonization VII - proper attitude [that's how it's done]; published July 3, 2011, 15:20; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=450.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigmatization and demonization VII - proper attitude [that's how it's done]}}, month = {July},year = {2011}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=450}}


This is a new occurrence - refreshing, well done and informative. That is the way things are done. Exactly that is what everyone expects everyone else to do. Chill, be nice.

Watch it. This is very instructive.

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Training for failure [wobble tip]

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Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Training for failure [wobble tip]; published March 26, 2011, 22:37; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=391.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Training for failure [wobble tip]}}, month = {March},year = {2011}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=391}}


I almost fell from the chair when I just saw this training idea about how to gain a more secure gait.

In essence, they are saying to distort the (otherwise) stable input to your brain to make it react in a better way.

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Adaptation, integration - we're built to do it and we do it all the time

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Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Adaptation, integration - we're built to do it and we do it all the time; published January 20, 2010, 17:18; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=264.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Adaptation, integration - we're built to do it and we do it all the time}}, month = {January},year = {2010}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=264}}


I first figured, whoa, prosthetics - how I'm a adapt to it? That was when this was all new to me.

But two weeks after I started to wear the provisional socket with the first hook, I thoughtlessly picked up some paper in the local supermarket. Someone else saw it and went, wow that is one hell of a swift motion there. What's up! And neither practiced or considered a lot. My brain seemed to have done that by itself.

So I want to reflect on this a bit.
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Ultimate in Prosthetic Performance Scoring: The EODF End Of Day Feeling

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Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Ultimate in Prosthetic Performance Scoring: The EODF End Of Day Feeling; published January 11, 2010, 00:06; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=256.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Ultimate in Prosthetic Performance Scoring: The EODF End Of Day Feeling}}, month = {January},year = {2010}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=256}}


Don't worry about any detailed analysis or technical feature, about concise specifications or spring angles. Whatever it is you are wearing or not wearing in terms of prosthetic arms, what ultimately counts is your EODF (End Of Day Feeling).

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Hand Amputation *Will* Result in Altered Perception Around the Hands

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Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Hand Amputation *Will* Result in Altered Perception Around the Hands; published January 10, 2010, 19:17; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=259.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Hand Amputation *Will* Result in Altered Perception Around the Hands}}, month = {January},year = {2010}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=259}}


Tamara Makin et. al report [link, link]: The space within reach of our hands is the medium for reaching, grasping, and avoidance movements. Accordingly, visual information in this action space is organized in hand?centered coordinates, generating a common frame of reference for perception and action. (...) We report here that amputation of a hand is indeed associated with a mild visual neglect of the amputated side: Participants with an amputated hand favored their intact side when comparing distances in a landmark?position judgment task. Importantly, this bias was absent when the targets were placed in far space. Our results thus demonstrate that the possibility for action within near space shapes the actor’s spatial perception. -- The findings suggest that losing a hand may shrink the action space on the amputated side, leading to permanent distortions in spatial perception. According to the researchers, This shows that the possibility for action in near space shapes our perception — the space near our hands is really special, and our ability to move in that space affects how we perceive it.

So I wondered what would influence this warped perception, this distortion, more: a static (cosmetic) or a functional prosthesis? From my own experience I prefer a static (cosmetic) prosthesis for walking or going to the movies or also for Tai Chi - when my shoulders, back and neck are important. But for feeling at least halfways symmetrical I also feel that wearing a body powered prosthesis makes me more aware of my disabled side. Also, I just recently started to increasingly use the disabled arm and the prosthesis - not just because I started to use appealing and powerful terminal devices but also, because this seemed to take time.

Intriguingly, I just got this statement from someone happily wearing a somewhat static but halfways functional arm that still allows to grasp and hold objects using minimized cable control: This "passive" arm helps me.  However, I built this arm like a tank and it weighs about 3 KG and it's protected.  My body is balanced, symmetrical.  My movement and power is spot on. Like me, he optimized between prosthetic parts he did not want to put up with and other parts that proved useful.

So I went to the supplementary data of this article [link, link] and, tada.

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Attitudes and behavior towards disabled, by Guenther Cloerkes

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Attitudes and behavior towards disabled, by Guenther Cloerkes; published June 17, 2009, 20:02; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=179.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Attitudes and behavior towards disabled, by Guenther Cloerkes}}, month = {June},year = {2009}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=179}}


3 Comments

Experimental empirical tests have shown that immediate reactions to visual disability is characterized by extensive and largely uncontrollable agitation or nervosity.

If you are interested in what, generally and by and large, physically different people can do to others, simply by being there and by exposing themselves, keep reading.

Original text by Guenther Cloerkes. Excerpted translation based on original text by Guenther Cloerkes but not a full or always direct translation - by Wolf Schweitzer., partly by hand, partly by use of online translation tools with manual post-tool-editing -- (C) Copyright Guenther Cloerkes 1985.

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Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, by Erving Goffman

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, by Erving Goffman; published May 18, 2009, 14:47; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=175.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, by Erving Goffman}}, month = {May},year = {2009}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=175}}


4 Comments


Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity is THE seminal text on stigma and social identity, a complex subject that I am interested in two ways, trying to learn about social aspects by reading and trying out practical ways of counteracting negative issues.

It contains an illuminating excursion into the situation of persons who are unable to conform to standards that society calls normal. Disqualified from full social acceptance, we are stigmatized individuals. Physically deformed people, ex-mental patients, drug addicts, prostitutes, or those ostracized for other reasons must constantly strive to adjust to their precarious social identities.

Their image of themselves must daily confront and be affronted by the image which others reflect back to them. Read this book and you will discover what it means to be stigmatized.

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Stigmatization and demonization III - counter terrorism

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Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigmatization and demonization III - counter terrorism; published October 5, 2008, 15:23; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=146.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigmatization and demonization III - counter terrorism}}, month = {October},year = {2008}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=146}}


3 Comments

One thing is to learn about concepts behind stigmatization and demonization, at least in as much as a rough and generalized understanding is concerned.

The second thing is to learn to adapt this to one's own way of dealing things. And one aspect of that - in my experience now - is to communicate proactively.

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Stigmatization and demonization I - does the Uncanny Valley make us getting terrorized by the public?

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigmatization and demonization I - does the Uncanny Valley make us getting terrorized by the public?; published October 5, 2008, 15:18; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=49.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571792289, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Stigmatization and demonization I - does the Uncanny Valley make us getting terrorized by the public?}}, month = {October},year = {2008}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=49}}


9 Comments

"You're different because one or more of your physical attributes doesn't work properly, and that difference makes me uncomfortable but intrigues me at the same time" (prime perception of mainstream society, see The Cinema of Isolation, p. xii).

I would not go as far as attributing negative experience with other people to causes such as stigmatization and demonization each and every time. That itself would mean to somewhat demonize others. We are all different and not everyone has a great day always.

Yet there is little left to guess in a recent 2009 campaign of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. There I feel that we are very clearly equated with fake watches and fake people. Yet, the question of authenticity is a serious issue not just in prosthetics but in society. What is it that we see as 'real'?

On the other hand, no other person that looks at me as disabled person would ever admit to stigmatizing or demonizing me because of visible disability. Yet, it is undeniably one of the bigger factors that may affect a non-disabled person and at the same time mostly outside of reach as this is a matter located anywhere but even remotely close to an acceptable dinner table subject.

And particularly initially - but also for some people still after two decades of being an amputee - the stigmatization and demonization by the public has something deeply terrorizing and intimidating about it. It is worth dedicating some time to this subject before starting to talk back.

Example: I regularly attend a swimming pool, and there, I participate in a club training. A while back, a well educated lady who also is a member of that club told me she could not swim there any more. She said it would deeply depress her to see "someone like me" swim so much faster than her. I then took that as a compliment and asked her whether she considered that I had been even faster when I had two hands and whether she was not at all depressed by the presence of such two handed and even faster swimmers in our club? - She did not come back to club trainings. Seeing a person with a visible disability outperform her was far more threatening than being outperformed even more by non-disabled swimmers. So, there appears to be a threat that makes people go out of their way.

Ultimately we will have to look at design principles from their social meaning. For that, both sociology of disability and design principles are relevant areas of observation.
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