There are so many people who have their arm or leg amputated because of an illness or injury and they have chosen to be wearing the prosthetic limbs. In the past years, majority of the artificial legs and arms were fragile. However, the prosthetic technology has significantly advanced already. The leg amputees these days are able to run marathons, skydive, and even climb the mountains. There is also a new bionic arm which is controlled by the thoughts of the individual who wears it wherein he or she is able to mimic almost majority of the movements of the real hand.
John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory together with the funding of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has developed the Modular Prosthetic Limb. It has twenty degrees of motion which includes the independent movement of every finger, having a weight of approximately nine pounds, and having the dexterity similar to the natural limb.
There are five major advances in robotic prosthetics and these are the following:
1. Prosthetic Foot Materials – The materials used in making the prosthesis have emerged from wood material to carbon fiber because of its life-like material that gives the foot of the amputees a sense of life. It provides more comfort as well as confidence for the amputees. The thermoplastic sockets are giving the individuals who use prosthetics the extended comfort at the site where the prosthesis is fitted and the titanium is making the prosthesis more durable and is able to last longer.
2. Bluetooth – It is known for its ability in connecting pieces of technology together with the use of no wires. The Bluetooth devices aid to communicate with each other in regulating speed, pressure, and stride in the prosthetic legs. Its advantage for use is its programmability of the software wherein its technology can be used to have further development in order to have the adjustments suitable to the needs of the patients.
3. Microprocessor Knees – Individuals are able to have greater control over moving, stopping, and walking inclines when the prosthesis have onboard computer. The robotic knees, which are also regarded as the microprocessor knees, do the analysis of the pressure that the amputee will be putting on the missing limb. In addition, a fluid control unit is contained within the knee in which the microprocessor will be monitoring the appropriate resistance during walking on inclines. The microprocessor knees revolutionized both the stability and safety of the individuals who do not have knees.
4. Myoelectric Technology – The myoelectric prostheses are controlled when the muscle sensors are placed against the skin at the amputation site. The electric signals which the muscle of the stump of the amputee generates are the ones controlling the processor aboard the prosthetic. The myoelectric technology offers great control as well as precision in the five fully functional digits and this will allow the individual to be performing daily tasks.
5. Target Muscle Reinnervation – The amputated limb nerves are being reenergized in various body parts like the chest. When the amputee wishes to utilize the arm, he or she will think of the action which will prompt the nerves in the chest to react. The reaction will be sending message to the microprocessor in the robotic limb that will do the action.