Objective: To assess whether children/adolescents with unilateral congenital below elbow deficiency experience activity or participation limitations and how they deal with those limitations.
Methods: A qualitative study using online focus group interviews was held with 42 children/adolescents (in 3 age groups: 8-12, 13-16, and 17-20 years), 17 parents and 19 health professionals. Questions were posted concerning activities, participation, prosthetic use, psychosocial functioning, and rehabilitation care. This study concerns the first two topics; activities and participation.
Results: Children/adolescents experienced only a few limitations, and there were no activities or participation situations that were impossible. The limitations experienced could be attributed mainly to environmental factors, e.g. people who lack knowledge of the child's capacities. Those factors were particularly decisive in transition phases. Children/adolescents and parents described numerous strategies applied to deal with the deficiency. Professionals described fewer strategies and emphasized the use of adaptive devices and prostheses more than other participants did.
Conclusion: Having unilateral congenital below elbow deficiency did not interfere with any activity, but not all children/adolescents had the ability to perform all activities. The strategies described by children/adolescents in managing their deficiency should be integrated into healthcare by providing realistic education about the various creative solutions and possibilities of adaptive devices and prostheses, and should be combined with specific training.