Just a few decades ago, the options for amputees to get prostheses were very few. They had to adjust with wooden and crude prostheses. And if not, they were bound to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. However, now, the opportunities for the amputees are far more advanced. In these 20 years, engineers have integrated prostheses with technology so that they could function better than ever before.
Here are 5 major remarkable advancements in prosthetics that showcase a milestone of success in this field:
Prosthetic Foot Materials
For many years, wood was used for prosthesis equipment. But over the last 20 years, many skin-friendly materials have emerged that prove to be very comforting for the amputees. When you open today’s prosthetic wear, you would see it's inside made out of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is a more life-like element that gives amputees a sense of originality in their lost body parts.
Moreover, the titanium structure of the prosthetic wear ensures longer durability of the equipment and the thermoplastic sockets give the wearers an extended sense of comfort.
Bluetooth is known for its capability to connect two pieces of technology without wires. The same technology was used in 2007 on the prosthetic legs of Marine captain Joshua. The Bluetooth devices that were fitted in either leg communicated with each other to regulate speed, pressure, and stride in each leg.
According to Blanc, a prosthetist at Brooke Army Medical Center, we could use the Bluetooth to design prostheses to adjust it to different amputees’ needs.
The robotic knees or otherwise known as microprocessor knees comprises of an on-board computer inside the prosthesis wear. According to prosthetists, people with above-knee amputations have more command over walking, sitting and moving as compared to the people with below-knee amputations.
The microprocessor knees could analyze the stride and pressure that the wearer puts on the artificial limb. moreover, the robotic knees also include a fluid that could monitor appropriate and healthy joint resistance while walking on inclines.
The microprocessor knee has proved to be extra revolutionary for people without knees. Many prosthetists say that amputees with robotic knees do not even have to worry about the knee buckle too.
When we talk about myoelectric technology, the first thing that pops in our minds is the high-tech i-LIMB hand. This technology entails denoting a relationship between the muscle and the prefix myo.
The devices integrated with myoelectric technology works by placing tissue sensors against the skin at the position of amputation.
The signals generated by the muscles control the microprocessor and moves the prosthetic wear.
The myoelectric technology embedded prosthetic arm allows the wearer to perform every day tasks such as picking up a coin, grasping an apple, throwing trash in the bin and etc.
Targeted Muscle Reinnervation
The scientists and engineers are just at the infant stage when it comes to developing prosthetic wear that could be controlled by minds. However, they have cracked the trick to use targeted muscle reinnervation on prosthetic wear.
The technology is simple. The recipient just thinks of action or how he wants to move his arm. This prompts the nerves in the amputee’s chest to react. The reaction immediately sends the electrical signals to the microprocessor and hence, the prosthetic wear performs the action.