February 27, 2017
Researchers believe that the future of prosthetic limb development is bright. Advances in technology are making prosthetics feel more comfortable and natural for users than ever before.
Prosthetic limbs are made to restore the appearance and function of an amputated limb, with both upper and lower extremity prostheses available. For athletes, sport-specific prostheses can be worn to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. And while it is true that today’s prosthetic devices are more highly engineered and comfortable than ever, thanks to advances in prosthetic limb technology, researchers are constantly looking for ways to improve the comfort and functionality of these devices. The future of prosthetic limbs is looking more promising than ever.
Prosthetic Limbs and Advancements Throughout the Years
Over the years, amazing advancements in prosthetic limb technology have been made. One of the more recent developments is the microprocessor-controlled joint. These were first developed in the United States in the 1990s and made it possible for a prosthesis joint to automatically adapt to a person’s unique needs. For example, those with a prosthetic leg could utilize a microprocessor-controlled joint that would automatically adapt to the person’s specific walking patterns, allowing for more natural leg movement and increasing the amputee’s mobility overall.
Furthermore, advances in the materials used to build prosthetic limbs have made them lighter in weight, which makes them easier for patients to use. In recent years, it has also become possible to cover artificial limbs in a “skin” that looks similar to human flesh, giving them a more natural appearance and, in many ways, making them indistinguishable to the untrained eye from a natural limb.
Promising New Advancements and Technology
Researchers are finding potential for promising new advancements in prosthetic limb technology. For example, Johns Hopkins University has recently developed a prosthetic arm that can be controlled by a person’s mind. Specifically, brain signals can be sent directly to the prosthetic to control up to 26 joints. This technology is not fully available in the market yet, but its use is promising.
“Myoelectric” prosthetics, such as prosthetic hands, are getting closer than ever to truly mimicking the true function of a natural human limb. As a result, we can expect to see more natural movements from prosthetics in the future. With more natural movements, amputees will struggle less with sometimes bulky and awkward motions from prostheses.
What This Means for Amputees
While prosthetics have come a long way in terms of their ability to look and feel like real human limbs, additional studies and research are being conducted to improve the look and feel even more. The goal is not only to create an artificial limb looks and feels real, but also to compel the brain to control the prosthetic as it would a real limb– an important step in helping amputees improve their own quality of life.
For amputees with prosthetic limbs, these future advancements can be truly life-changing. While only time will tell what the future of prosthetic technology will bring, things are looking bright right now. For more information on prosthetic limbs in Arkansas, contact the prosthesis experts at Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics today at (501) 683-8889.
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Tags: amputees, prosthetic limbs