Top 5 advances in prosthetics in 2017
By: fishadmin, On: 18 April 2017
Prosthetics have progressed dramatically in recent years, with many people choosing to move away from the standard NHS provided prosthetics, to highly functioning, technologically advanced limbs.
With these types of prosthetics now available on the market, there’s a wide range of options to choose from, especially for people looking to participate in different activities, such as driving, swimming, and cycling.
Below, we’ve outlined the top 5 advances in prosthetic technology that we’ve seen in 2017 so far – and what’s to come.
1. Consciously controlled limbs
With brain-controlled prosthetics on the horizon, it certainly feels as if we’re reaching the peak age of artificial limbs. This technology is still in the prototype stages, but research at Imperial College London is progressing quickly and we could see the next generation of prosthetic limbs in the very near future.
Their aim is to create wearables that use the same brain functions used to control movement, bringing in cognitive intelligence into to the actual prosthetics, allowing for complete integration.
2. 3D printing
3D printing has not only become a phenomenon within the manufacturing and construction world, but also throughout the prosthetic community. All over the world, 3D printing is allowing for the cost-effective creation of functioning, prosthetics, which is allowing both children and adults the opportunity to utilise lightweight, futuristic limbs in everyday life.
In some countries, it’s even saving lives. In countries, such as Sudan, where children are recruited into guerrilla armies, injured by firearms, landmines, and rival groups, these 3D printed prosthetic limbs are giving these children and teenagers in developing countries the chance to gain some normality back.
3. See-through designs
Art and disability don’t often come together, and although bulky prosthetics and silicone limbs help thousands of people, the aesthetics of these products doesn’t always match up to their incredible functionality.
However, industrial designer, William Root, has created an innovative and modern prosthetic utilising titanium, which allows him to create intricate and unique designs for each person. Functional and very, very cool.
4. Bionic arms
By utilising electricity and robotics to create movement, bionic arms seem to be something we can only dream of in the future, but they’re already being created today. The state of the art prosthetics use muscle sensors connected to the skin, allowing the user to operate the limb effectively.
5. Nerve detectors
Similar to bionic limbs, nerve detectors control the prosthetic, utilising the user’s mind to think they are actually moving the limb. The technology behind it operates via spinal motor neurons, instead of just muscle, like a bionic arm. This allows more commands to be detected by the sensors, permitting the prosthetic to move more freely, rather than be limited to a smaller amount of movements.