The cutting edge technologies supporting prosthetics and orthotics continue to advance, with even more on the horizon. From new techniques in surgery to deeper levels of customizability, this field is rapidly changing to provide improvements in the function of prosthetics and orthotics. Take a look at the latest technologies being used today.
New technology used in prosthetics
While still years away from commercial use, a new technology for decoding neuromuscular signals is under development. This will allow prosthetic limbs to work much more like natural limbs. In comparison to the current process, where patients must go through a time-consuming task of training their prosthesis to be able to incorporate their specific different movements, this new science would eliminate that need, and skip right to being able to function as a real hand.
Microprocessor controlled prosthetics
Microprocessor controlled prosthetics provide a cutting-edge solution to some common prosthetics concerns and are already available to the public. Prior to the microprocessor, mechanical prosthetics were used. While still helpful, the mechanical version does not allow imitation of the way body parts work. Activities like standing, walking, and climbing stairs require a complex biological system of movements of the joints, tendons, bones, and muscles.
Through this advancement of technology used in prosthetics, the microprocessor is able to mimic these movements, match the person’s walking gait, and provide smoother, more natural motions. The precision of these devices allows them to constantly direct motion. In fact, this fascinating advancement has multiple sensors directing movement up to 50 times a second! Another benefit is that they can go far longer without charging and have the ability to switch back into a traditional mechanical mode as a back up if the batteries die while still in use.
New surgical techniques
Not only are the helpful tools advancing in the field of prosthetics, but advancements in surgical techniques are taking prosthetics to a new level as well. A rotationplasty is a type of surgery that allows the foot to be rotated and the ankle used in place of the knee. Although still a rarer option, this unique procedure requires a distinctive prosthesis to fit perfectly given all considerations.
Another advancement in microprocessors is on the horizon, which will take place at the point of surgery. When muscles are severed, many nerves that send signals to the amputated limb often remain intact. Those surviving nerves can eventually be connected to a microprocessor that will translate nerve signals into instructions for moving the prosthetic limb. This amazing advancement is currently under development by MIT researchers and will provide life-changing movements for many amputees.
Thanks to the innovations in 3D printing, researchers are considering design advancements, such as a honeycomb grid option, durable enough to use while playing sports. A runner’s calf is resembled in yet another innovative design that is plated with nickel made to look like lace. Spectacular new designs like these are giving patients the opportunity to express their personalities, plus keep up with their favorite sports and hobbies in a way that has not been seen in prosthetics in the past.
A seemingly simple but crucial advancement in orthotics and prosthetics is the use of shrinker socks after surgery. To receive accurate measurements for your prosthetic, you must be certain that the swelling has gone down after surgery. These specialized socks will help promote the ideal shape for your prosthetic limb.
New orthotic technology
The most significant advancement in orthotics is customizability. Custom-made orthotics involve a complex process of development. First, an evaluation and assessment will occur to measure every consideration for your specific needs, alignment, range of motion, and walking gait. From these results, recommendations can be made by your professional orthotics team.
The next step is the casting process, and your team will provide and recommend a variety of materials to further customize the device. Materials like modern plastics, foam, carbon graphite, and nylon provide a plethora of benefits. Flexibility, increased versatility, and longer orthosis life are some of the advantages of using modern technology to incorporate many material options throughout the casting process. There also exists two primary types of foot orthotics: weight-bearing or non-weight-bearing. The difference is simply that the cast is taken when the patient is standing on the foot versus where the patient is reclining.
After the product is fabricated through a hand-built process based on your mold, you will be ready for your final fitting. Your team will ensure everything fits properly and comfortably as you walk around or stand. Find a great team of specialists like those at Horton’s Orthotics and Prosthetics who will ensure a perfect fit, and who will encourage you to schedule a follow up appointment to make certain you are completely satisfied and all your needs are met.
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Do not pass on the most advanced prosthetics on the market. For more information, contact Horton’s Orthotics and Prosthetics, or call us at 501-683-8889 for a free consultation.