Empowering amputees by helping them to be less dependent on others - after Haiti, after several US military deployments - apparently has become a big issue of sorts.
Some folks are of the firm opinion that amputees really need prostheses in order to be less dependent on other people. For single below elbow amputees that does not sound true at all.
Fitting, maintaining and repairing prostheses requires time, know-how, tools, materials and money - and as prostheses are special equipment, they are time consuming and expensive. So fitting someone with a prosthesis is, first and foremost, making that person dependent on people (specialists) and money (private, insurance, fund, etc.) as well as training. As these issues are problematic in themselves, fighting (for orthopedic technicians to do an at least halfways acceptable job), fighting (for insurance to pay) and fighting (to get the damages repaired or to repair them yourself) are an integral part of this. Furthermore, conventionally fitted prostheses also have the capacity to damage your health (skin, shoulder) - in some ways considerably - so on top of the aforementioned additional dependencies comes the problem of looking out for, catching and then avoiding damages. All in all, prostheses are an art form, prosthetic parts can be regarded as part of our cultural etiquette, they may help to balance back and shoulders, they may look cool (but not necessarily so), they may convey a sense of technology integration and may show that you can manage with a prop, they may display a certain propensity to expensive living and as that they are part of a luxury lifestyle in themselves that we may take as granted but that is technically a luxury nevertheless - but in no way are they simple solutions to make amputees depend less on others. That, in my experience, is really a wrong concept.
So to no surprise, without prosthesis and just using the bare stump, I can dress, undress, put on or take off a wrist watch, clean myself, shave my hair, do laundry, clean the house, cook, prepare meals, cut up fruits or vegetables, open eggs, peel bananas, iron shirts, fold shirts, change bed sheets, carry boxes, refill windshield wiper fluid in the car, ride a train, tram, bike, or drive my car, tie my shoes, tie my swim trunks, clean my glasses or type this text on a standard QWERTY keyboard using 5+1 fingering technique.
To make a prosthetic arm able to pull and handle real weight, the arm needs to fit properly. For that, anatomically perfect fitting using some liner and pin lock as well as a tight socket is required - to use straps and bars will not be sufficient for that. - To enable a prosthetic arm to offer massive grip power, a useful gripping device, technically perfect cable setup and technically sound shoulder harness systems are needed. Most setups sold commercially do not at all contain these properties. - To allow for daily usage and proper training, the arm needs to be really robust and light weight. As far as I know, commercial options these days are not suited to this requirement. Of course one can fake performance on any 30 second video - but real performance over 2-3 years or more require what I just outlined. And certified prosthetic technicians may not even be able to deliver that which is probably why they need to lobby so much.
What really empowers amputees and helps them to be less dependent are ways to live without prostheses. All that is needed for that is proper technique, proper attitude. Here is a convincing demonstration that this is a non-negotiable fact and in fact I am right about this. An armless guy is checking the brakes on his car, using proper technique and proper standard tools. That is what I call proper perception of empowerment.
Watch this man do the works and explain the steps as he goes along:
This is a guy showing off a series of Parkour jumps and climbs - perfectly well, not wearing a prosthetic arm.