The day robotics were fused with prosthetics, the lives of millions of people changed drastically. Bionic prostheses are perhaps the most prominent blessing of neuroscience. Unlike the medieval cosmetic prosthesis, the prostheses of our times do not state power or social status. They are the instruments of rehabilitation, able to alleviate a plethora of post-amputation complications. The medieval prosthesis was expensive and affordable to only the rich and powerful of the society. Thus a mass deployment was out of the question. Additionally, the craftsmen able to build them were a handful in number and scarce in the world. But today, the scenario has completely changed. Computerized modern robotics have taken over the scene. Prostheses of our time can listen to the wielder’s will and act in accordance with that. Thus even if they can not replace the old limb they can rehabilitate by giving back some of the abilities.
Despite such advancements, today’s prostheses have a few major drawbacks. These drawbacks prevent the smooth implementation of a bionic prosthesis in any case of amputation. But before the emergence of 3d printed organs they were the only hope for the amputees in need. Thus it is important to grasp every bit of essential knowledge before making a decision of purchase. This article will serve exactly that purpose and enlighten the reader so that a decision can be made with commendable swiftness.
A bionic prosthesis is controlled by an onboard microcomputer. This computer can take up electromyographic signals from the muscles and translate them into gestures and actions. The strength of the signals, processing and hardware capabilities of a prosthesis determine the quality and quantity of actions a prosthesis can perform. A modern-day prosthesis involves surface electromyographic sensors placed on the skin for receiving signals from the residual muscles.
Amputations are performed as a last resort in the cases of cancer, terminal injury or unstoppable cancer. Thus this process is a candid one focusing on saving the lives of amputees rather than preserving the muscles they need for wielding a prosthesis in the future.
The length of the limb is also important because of the importance of wielding it with some degree of success. A tedious and painful method known as bionic reconstruction is thus implemented for a smooth installation. However, the process is not smooth and involves multiple surgical interventions. Only the strong and desperate can go through this ordeal and ultimately wield a prosthesis.
The nature of the injury is also a determining factor when it comes to the implementation of bionic prostheses. Any injury involving the relevant dermatomes and segments of the spinal cord can render an amputee ineligible for wielding a bionic prosthesis.
The rehabilitation after an amputation is a lengthy process full of hurdles. After a limb is lost the brain refuses to acknowledge the loss immediately. The anatomical modifications remain active long after the limb is lost and they tend to produce an unwanted pseudo sensation. These sensations can become so frustrating that they can be perceived as pain. This phantom limb pain can be alleviated by providing an outlet for those modifications. A bionic prosthesis can utilize these modifications in functioning more efficiently alleviating the pain in the process.
Depression and frustrations also accompany an amputee after losing a limb. Isolation and dependence on mundane tasks rob the ability to gain rewards necessary for a goodnight’s sleep. A bionic prosthesis can not replace a lost limb completely but can give back some of the essential abilities. These abilities can alleviate frustration with time. And gives back a social life to the amputees alleviating depression in the process.
Before we make any significant progress in the field of 3D organ printing, these prostheses are the best option we have for giving mobility back to society.
Modern-day prostheses utilize a surface EMG sensor paradigm. These sensors are placed on the surface of the skin in a non-invasive manner. Thus the deeply embedded nerve bundles remain long out of reach for the sensors. A new robust neuromusculoskeletal sensor paradigm is emerging from the horizon. These sensors are invasive and can feed sensory information to the brain when needed.
For instance, a robotic prosthetic arm deploying neuromusculoskeletal sensors can sense heat, pressure etc if the sensors for these stimuli can be deployed. As a result, the future prosthesis will be more empowering in terms of performance. And due to the presence of sensory abilities, amputees can utilize them in full potential without much worry of damage and unwanted inconveniences.