High Tech Prosthetics Are Changing The Future Of The Prosthetic Field
The prosthetics industry has slowly but surely been changing since the late 1990s with the advent of the C-Leg. At its time, the C-Leg was virtually unheard of. The C-Leg was the first prosthetic limb to incorporate a microprocessor to enhance movement and versatility and it helped over ten thousand patients. High tech prosthetics at Tony Martin Limb & Brace have come even further since then.
Technology has done a great deal to improve the way we interact with our environments. Consider tablets, smartphones and smart home devices. A lot of this technology can be and has been used to increase the functionality of prosthetic limbs, making lives easier for the people who rely on these limbs. Innovation has only just begun and the horizons are looking bright.
Improved Sockets And Innovative Methods Of Attachment
The comfort of the socket is one of the most important parts of a prosthetic limb. If the socket doesn’t fit properly, the wearer’s ability to control the limb accurately will be limited. If the socket is uncomfortable, use of the limb can cause pain or injury over time. Crafting the perfect socket has always been a crucial part of the process, and technology is making it easier.
Sockets are enhanced with the use of a revolutionary CAD-CAM system that has been updated for better accuracy and efficiency. The CAD-CAM system is used to measure the affected limb. By creating a full map of the area being fitted for a prosthesis, the software is able to generate a fully customized socket that is unique to the patient. It’s this process that allows a patient to fully make use of their new limb.
New technology has allowed CAD-CAM systems to take better measurements and generate these socket maps much faster. Handheld scanning devices can work with the software to generate an accurate representation of the limb, making the customization process nearly instantaneous. This allows preliminary sockets to be generated the same day, drastically expediting the process of a long-term fit.
This also means changes for the ways that sockets are designed. Anatomical sockets can be used to increase the range of motion for patients with amputations above the knees. Designed to move fluidly with the body and provide extra support, these anatomical sockets allow wearers to live their lives to the fullest.
Trials have begun with prosthetic limbs that don’t even require a socket. Some patients can benefit from a limb secured with a titanium bold that anchors the prosthesis to the remaining portion of the bone. While is process has not yet been widely approved, trials on over 100 patients across the world have proved promising. There’s reason to be hopeful that these fully integrated limbs may be available in the coming years.
Computerized Knee Joints
Computers and machines use something called a microprocessor to receive and interpret information. These processors send commands to the other components, creating a reaction to produce an outcome. Microprocessors in prosthetic knee joints can help an artificial limb move as intuitively as an organic limb. They can predict movement patterns, adjusting and optimizing themselves with every step.
Traversing stairs or steep inclines is much easier with a microprocessor-controlled knee. Even a light hike is possible. Active people with an above knee amputation will find that these computerized knees allow them to live the way they want to live because of all the possibilities they present.
Some artificial legs that utilize this microprocessor knee joint come with wireless remote controls that allow the user to switch functions. The high-tech prosthetic knee can be programmed for a wide variety of activities. Even standing is easier with a standing mode that keeps the knee stable. This improves weight distribution and makes standing for long periods of time a little more comfortable.
Lower Limbs With Powered Components
Outside of knees with microprocessors, other strides have been made in enhancing the capabilities of lower limbs. While the knee joint is critically important, the joints surrounding the foot are equally as necessary.
Power assisted foot and ankle joints make lower limbs infinitely easier to use. Patients without these powered joints have to expend more effort to accomplish routine tasks because artificial limbs without powered features can’t make up the difference. Tackling stairs or moving across uneven grass is easier when the assistive features around the foot are able to take on some of the burden of ambulation.
This feature also makes basic activity simpler. Rising from a chair, particularly if that chair is low to the ground, is easier when the foot responds to the motion and helps the wearer stand. It’s a small convenience, but it changes so much or the people who depend on artificial feet to get around.
Dynamic And Mobile Upper Limbs
Upper joints, like wrists, elbows, and fingers largely benefit from an increased range. Fine motor control with most upper limb prosthetics is difficult to achieve. Tasks that require small details are hard when a hand can’t move the way it should. Enhancements and battery-powered systems in upper limbs are designed to make these tasks possible.
Myoelectric upper limbs provide distinct advantages above body powered or cosmetic upper limb prosthetics. They allow users to lift more weight and articulate the limb in ways that weren’t previously possible. Bending elbows and rotating wrists provide the ultimate level of convenience from an artificial limb. Better weight distribution will even allow these arms to sway naturally beside the body.
Fully functional hands are still in development, but progress is being made every day. Several companies are exploring the possibility of producing functional artificial hands where each finger can operate independently. This isn’t something that will happen overnight, but great strides are being made. Research and development will continue until the final product is ready for the world.
While not all people who require an artificial hand will be able to thoroughly utilize the fingers of a completely articulated hand, this prototype device still provides a wealth of potential that will change the way that all upper limb amputees may live in the future.
Though most of these technological advancements are still being fine-tuned, many of them are expected to be available to patients in the near future. When technology and medical science work together, all things are possible.
Please call us today for your free consultation. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about our newest high tech prosthetics. Our office is located in Tucson, AZ.