Prosthetics is a humble attempt of replacing the irreplaceable. The trauma of losing a limb can devastate the usual habits and ways of living. Hence, the dynamic development of prosthetics is fueled by both fear and will. Today’s prosthetics can give back some of the lost habits and feelings but certainly misses out on a lot. A closer look at the origin reveals the stories of a medieval blacksmith from Nuremberg, who reportedly engineered the first prostheses. but the reach of such devices was limited to the upper class of the social hierarchy. The development since then was very much in sync with the needs of humanity. Prosthetics became more nimble, lightweight, and comfortable over the years and was steadily benefitted by breakthroughs in allied disciplines.
Prosthetics at our times
After the incorporation of bionic concepts in the design of prostheses, the acceptance of an artificial limb increased drastically. And with great prospects, came severe limitations in terms of applicability and cost. In the past years, entrepreneurs took to the uncharted territories of technology for reducing expenses. But the limitation of applicability held its ground. The root for these limitations lies in the internal processes of bionic prostheses. Bionic prostheses are controlled by an onboard microprocessor. The processor translates Sensor data from the muscles into gestures and movements supported by the hardware. The sensors are placed strategically for receiving electromyographic data from the residual muscles of an amputated limb. Clearly missing these muscles can render an amputee ineligible of wielding a bionic prosthesis. For instance, for wielding a bionic prosthetic arm an amputee must present an ideal length of the residual limb. Due to the candid nature of amputations many amputees disqualify from wielding the enormous potential of bionics.
Prosthetics of the future
Most of today’s prosthetics lack the aspect of feel and sensory receptors. The reliability upon motor information from the muscles, limits the modern prosthesis from receiving sensory data. This vital incompleteness might get addressed by the future prostheses. It has been seen that neuromusculoskeletal bionic prostheses are able to feed sensory information to the sensory cortex.
The wielding experience of the prostheses will inevitably change into something more user friendly as well. The use of silicone elastomers and composite lightweight materials with a high strength to weight ratio are on the horizon.
A long term industrial existence of bionics will most certainly conceive a community of adept engineers and a heightened social awareness. Which in turn might ease up multiple difficulties faced by today’s amputees.
Given the impact of recent developments in neuroscience and allied disciplines the future of prosthetics are undoubtedly bright. Today’s prostheses are clearly not for everyone for a variety of reasons. The future is poised to overcome this hurdle and bring a revolution in terms of applicability. Life will definitely become faster and the efficiency expected from each of us will burst through the roof. Rehabilitation of the wounded and incomplete will certainly benefit the combined human workforce.