Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 08, 2022

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROSTHETICS




Accident victims who lose their limbs experience physical and psychological trauma. Previously, patients with amputated limbs had to depend on the other limbs to execute basic tasks. However, with the gradual development of technology, these patients have the privilege to use their affected areas. Prosthetics are attached to the remaining muscle to enable the patients to use that part of their body. After the addition of prosthetics, patients are rehabilitated and taught to use their 'new limb.'

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

Surprisingly, prosthetic attachments started from 900BC. Since then, there has been gradual progress in the materials used to design prosthetics and their functionality. For example, the 900BC prosthetic was made from wood and leather, while 600BC shows us the innovativeness of ancient Egyptians who used linen, glue, and plaster to make a prosthetic toe.

During Roman civilization, prosthetic legs were designed with wood, bronze, and iron, while the middle-Ages, ushered in peg legs and hook hands made of wood. The Renaissance used copper, iron, steel, and wood as prosthetic materials. It seemed to be the apex of Prosthetic development until the mid-1900s: when the research was conducted, and the use of plastics, polycarbonates, synthetic sockets (for comfort), resins, and laminates for prosthetic production emerged.

Recently, research has been ongoing towards neuroprosthetics. Scientists are looking at a future where these attachments receive impulses from the brain and act accordingly. This will eliminate the discomfort of limbs that feel and act mechanically. It will also allow prosthetic users to enjoy their favorite pastimes like online gambling and other activities.

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  1. Trans-radial.
  2. Trans-humeral.
  3. Trans-tibial.
  4. Trans-femoral.

TRANS-RADIAL

A trans-radial prosthetic is on the forearm below the elbow. It encompasses both a forearm and a wrist for basic gripping actions. Newer models of this prosthetic have wires and cables containing certain fluids that react to muscle movement and motion to give a fluid-like indication. The trans-radial prosthetic provides the amputee with a robot-like arm, allowing them to perform several arm functions efficiently, although there may be limitations.

TRANS-HUMERAL

These are more complex as they are fitted above the elbow (between where the elbow would be and the shoulder). It is relatively tricky for this prosthetic to mimic the actual motion intended by the amputee. They are most hybrids of body-powered (uses muscle movement to determine intended action) and electrical (uses electric signals from the brain to determine the planned move.

TRANS-TIBIAL

This prosthetic is attached to the leg of the amputee just below the knee. The amputee would still be able to partake in various recreational sporting activities because retaining the knee makes normal movement easier.

TRANS-FEMORAL

Similar to the trans-humeral, a trans-femoral prosthetic sits above the knee. Because the residual limb is much shorter than the trans-femoral prosthetic, it takes significant time, energy, money, and effort to rehabilitate. With trans-femoral prosthetics, one would take more time and effort to walk successfully than someone with trans-tibial prosthetics. Fortunately, bioengineers and medical personnel work on projects such as hydraulic pumps and direct bone attachment to help trans-femoral amputees.


 





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