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    A tool for measuring mental workload during prosthesis use: the Prosthesis Task Load Index (PROS-TLX)

    Parr, Johnny VV, Galpin, Adam, Uiga, Liis, Marshall, Ben, Wright, David J, Franklin, Zoe C and Wood, Greg ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0851-7090 (2023) A tool for measuring mental workload during prosthesis use: the Prosthesis Task Load Index (PROS-TLX). PLoS One, 18 (5). e0285382-e0285382. ISSN 1932-6203

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    Abstract

    When using a upper-limb prosthesis, mental, emotional, and physical effort is often experienced. These have been linked to high rates of device dissatisfaction and rejection. Therefore, understanding and quantifying the complex nature of workload experienced when using, or learning to use, a upper-limb prosthesis has practical and clinical importance for researchers and applied professionals. The aim of this paper was to design and validate a self-report measure of mental workload specific to prosthesis use (The Prosthesis Task Load Index; PROS-TLX) that encapsulates the array of mental, physical, and emotional demands often experienced by users of these devices. We first surveyed upper-limb prosthetic limb users who confirmed the importance of eight workload constructs taken from published literature and previous workload measures. These constructs were mental demands, physical demands, visual demands, conscious processing, frustration, situational stress, time pressure and device uncertainty. To validate the importance of these constructs during initial prosthesis learning, we then asked able-bodied participants to complete a coin-placement task using their anatomical hand and then using a myoelectric prosthesis simulator under low and high mental workload. As expected, using a prosthetic hand resulted in slower movements, more errors, and a greater tendency to visually fixate the hand (indexed using eye-tracking equipment). These changes in performance were accompanied by significant increases in PROS-TLX workload subscales. The scale was also found to have good convergent and divergent validity. Further work is required to validate whether the PROS-TLX can provide meaningful clinical insights to the workload experienced by clinical users of prosthetic devices.

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