The very need for ideal circumstances for implementation speaks for the limitations of bionics and bionics assisted rehabilitation efforts. Perhaps, it is wise to start with a short discussion regarding the limitations of bionic prostheses.
Prosthetics as a discipline is a relatively new phenomenon but as a favourite medium of rehabilitation, it is definitely not new. In fact, the existence of prosthetics can be traced back to the medieval phase of western civilization. Back then it was definitely for the privileged and elite primarily due to availability. The craftsmen were fewer in number and the realization of such a device was undoubtedly a massive undertaking. But today’s prostheses are more available than ever due to the massive difference in infrastructure and material support compared to medieval Europe. But availability and reach have nothing to do with the obstacles of bionic prosthetic limbs in their way of becoming a universal solution.
Presence of relevant muscles or residual muscles
Bionic prostheses are controlled by an onboard microcomputer. This computer can translate electromyographic information into gestures and actions depending on the hardware a prosthesis possesses. As the name indicates, electromyographic signals are generated by the residual muscles, left after an amputation is done. The EMG signal generated by these muscles is detected by EMG sensors placed in a non-invasive manner on the amputee’s skin. Hence, the presence of these residual muscles is essential for the efficient functioning of bionic prosthetic limbs.
The nature of the injury
Muscles can not respond to motor signals without the intactness of Central and peripheral nervous systems. Especially the relevant dermatomes originating from the spinal cord. An injury rendering the nervous system and sensory-motor balance impaired can render an amputee ineligible for wielding a bionic prosthesis as well.
Presence of certain neuropathologies
The calibration of a bionic prosthesis can be beneficial in the long run if the nervous system it works with manages to demonstrate similar performance. But in the presence of neurodegenerative pathologies, this process can get hindered and the previous calibration can be rendered ineffective. Repeated calibrations are always not an option due to the terminal nature of progressive neurodegeneration.
Presence of phantom limb
The human body is tuned in such a way so that it can utilize the most of itself. Loss of a limb renders this system at least partially and in many cases completely ineffective. And the supporting anatomy immediately after the loss remains active and continues to affect the sensory-motor systems. For example, the brain will refuse to recognize the loss of a hand due to the presence of relevant myelinations and synapses. This phenomenon conceives a phenomenon termed phantom limb phenomenon. The presence of this phantom limb is actually beneficial for the implementation of bionic prosthetic limbs. The phantom limb signifies the willingness of the brain to accept a new enhancement as a replacement.
The development in the field of prosthetics is fueled by human intentions of coming back to life. A good bionic prosthesis can give back a lot in terms of abilities and empower the user for making significant contributions to society. The empowering experience, however, does not come cheap. An amputee must learn as much as possible regarding the new enhancement they are about to experience beforehand. And alongside this knowledge, a rigorous calibration process must be executed for providing an optimally efficient experience. The training of an amputee can not be completed without the personal motivation of the patient for coming back to the usual life and contributing to a certain extent.
The awareness factor
In a country like ours, many don’t even have an idea regarding the presence of bionic prostheses. And it can safely be considered that many amputees will find it difficult to afford and maintain a bionic prosthesis even if they are eligible for wielding the same. An effort for increasing the awareness of the masses is essential if the blessings of bionics are to reach the common man. And as there is little to no presence of a better alternative, bionics is the only way out when it comes to easing up a load of amputations on society. If mobility and function are given back to one human, the entire species can grow and progress without anyone lagging behind.