In order to understand the future of prosthetics, we must retrospect and find out about the constant evolution since its inception. If we dive deep into the history of prosthetics, we might come across stories of medieval blacksmiths. As the legend goes, a blacksmith from Nuremberg constructed the first-ever prosthetic arm for a local lord. Back then it was limited to the elite of the society due to high production costs and scarcity of appropriate material. Over the years science progressed at a steady rate in accordance with the developments in the field of prosthetics.
Now we are living in the era of neuroscience. And like each developmental phase in the history of mankind, prosthetics evolved drastically by the introduction of bionics. In spite of the huge leap over the previous generation prosthetics still lack significant features. We can only hope that with the emergence of new technologies every other day these issues will be resolved at a moment’s notice. This article will shed light on some of the expectations and the chances of them being fulfilled.
A robotic arm equipped with bionic technologies is controlled by delicate and sophisticated electronics. A bionic limb is controlled by an onboard microcomputer which transcribes Electromyographic data into gestures and actions as supported by the hardware. The noninvasive electromyographic sensors of the prosthesis pick up EMG signals from the residual muscles and feed them to the computer. In the coming years, the computer and the sensors will definitely experience a revamp along with the hardware. The future of prosthetics holds the promise of becoming more sensitive and more capable.
Materials & Welding experience
The materials used in building a prosthesis determine the endurance and comfort of the same. Materials with high strength to weight ratio are on the horizon and with time they will become more and more available. With the use of these composite materials, future prosthetics will definitely become lighter and easier to use.
The inner lining of a prosthesis determines the level of comfort it will provide. Superhydrophobic materials are increasingly being utilized for the level of hygiene it promises. Additionally, silicone elastomers are also being utilized for enhancing comfort. Given the rate of development in the field, sooner or later the prices of prostheses might significantly come down drastically.
Due to the noninvasive nature of sensor placement, the sensory nerves remain out of reach rendering the prosthesis unsupportive of sensory reception. With the inception of neuromuscular skeletal sensor implementations, the issue of sensory reception is almost resolved. Before 3D printed organs became mainstream, they are, might be the best alternative we have.
In Spite of these revolutionary developments, awareness regarding bionics still lacks. And remains limited to a very small group of interested individuals. Though with time prices of advanced prosthetics will definitely come down and as a result, the overall accessibility will certainly increase. And with increased use, the awareness will grow as well. Given the dynamics of developments in the field, the next decade undoubtedly holds the promise of leaving no amputee behind.