The newest innovations in prosthetic limbs 2018
Have you ever noticed some people wearing artificial legs or arms? Perhaps you have not noticed these because they maneuver their limbs just like yours. These artificial limbs are called prosthetic limbs. Lost/disabled limbs usually lead to traumatic psychological feelings that can transform the affected individuals into psychopaths. So prosthetic limbs give great hopes to people with limb deficiencies.
A prosthetic limb also called prosthesis, is a limb replacement provided for those who have lost their limbs through accidents, congenital defections and diseases, illness or war. Prosthetic limbs are made to give hope to amputees and improve their social life such that they will not be bored with the inferiority complex. The advent of advanced prosthetic limbs has provided answers to some questions such as the stress of carrying it around, the risk of infection, control of the device, the unbalance gait, post-surgical care and functionality. Current prosthetic limbs come with sockets that precisely fit onto the amputee's stumps. Hence, the amputee doesn't have to go to clinics for regular adjustments and treatments, which makes the process more expensive and time-consuming. In addition, there are no fears of the problems such as pains and sweat building up in the socket.
This is achieved by directly integrating the device into the body of the amputee in which a process known as osteointegration will be used to graft the prosthesis onto the skeleton. By this development, the body innate healing processes will be initiated so as to directly grow living bones onto the prosthetic limb, just lack an implant. Prof Noel Fitzpatrick, an Irish veterinary doctor, has been replacing lost paws of small animals by this method. The co-founder of Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems (CBAS), Oliver Armitage, has reported that they are developing a standardized interface that when implanted into the stump could integrate with bones and connect directly to nerves. The next challenge is the control of brain on the prosthetic limbs so as to achieve functionalities.
Prosthesis like the one featured in Star Wars movie, which was a science fiction is now turning into a reality. Hugh Herr, head of the Biomechatronics Group at MIT Media Lab, who lost both legs in a mountain climbing accident, demonstrated his prosthetic legs at TED 2018 in Vancouver. He claimed that he could skip, dance and run with the artificial legs. This is an incredible breakthrough of reproducing the sensations of natural limbs in prosthetics. With the aid of incorporated sensors and microprocessors, the prosthetic limbs are designed to respond to neural commands with accurate flexibility and response speed. The sensors and microprocessors pick up neural signals from the central nervous system as the bearer thinks and the prosthesis responds accordingly. In addition, more efforts are being made to ensure that prosthesis can sense touch, heat, pressure and other stimuli.
Kianoush Nazarpour, a Newcastle University bioengineer, is also one of the scientists working on ways of improving the existing technology. Making the prosthesis visually look like the normal skin is by covering it with a skin-like plastic material, which has been achieved by a group of Stanford chemists. The group have developed touch-, heat- and pressure sensitive plastic skin that heals itself. A fascinating development in prosthetic technology is the attachment of a camera near the wrist facing the fingers so as to ensure that fingers are in the best positions to grip objects by an algorithm that decides whether forefinger, a tripod or thumb would make the best grip. Kianoush Nazarpour, a bioengineer from Newcastle University, reported. These new innovations have made prosthetic limbs versatile for people with limb deficiencies.