Did you know that amputee population of the United States alone is over half million people? Did you know that the term "prosthetics" does not only refer to the replacement of limbs. It can include different types of prosthetics - from dentures and gastric bands, to artificial breasts for women.
When the question of prosthetics is discussed, the first assumption is generally towards replacement of arms or legs. However, there are many different types of prosthetics in everyday use, enabling thousands of people to lead normal lives. In general, prosthetic devices may be described as artificial components, with the purpose of replacing a missing human body part.
The abilities of prosthetic devices have increased considerably since about the middle of the twentieth century and have been developed to provide a wide variety of service. Some of the devices are operated on a manual basis, being generally attached to the remaining part of a limb by strapping applications or a suction suspension facility.
Regarding externally powered prosthesis a particular advantage to the user is that an external cable is no longer required. However, a harness may still be necessary in certain instances when suction suspension is not a feasible option. Certain disadvantages will be encountered, including an increase in weight, frequent and intricate maintenance and the need to have visual contact with the prosthesis during actuation.
It has been shown that the longer the amputee experiences the concept of, for example, being one handed, the motivation to put effort into learning how to use a functional prosthesis is diminished. Among the various types of prosthetics, this condition is recognized as being particularly applicable to an upper extremity amputee. Therefore, it is generally recommended that with other factors permitting, early fitting of a prosthetic limb should be instituted as soon as possible after surgery!
Direct Bone Attachment
There are various types of prosthetics methods, including direct bone attachment. It is being subjected to extensive research and exploration, mainly due to the significant pain caused to an amputee by the “stump and socket" method. The direct bone preparation consists of inserting a titanium bolt into the bone at the end of a stump, which after a period of several months becomes an attachment. An artificial limb is then fitted to this extension.
Current Development in the Field of Prosthetics
Some of the advances being achieved in the field of prosthetics can be considered quite amazing and revolutionary. The abilities that can be regained for amputees enable many to reach their previously set goals. The designers involved in the development of various aspects of prosthetics continue to strive for an active device that will operate much the same as the normal muscle.
A Futuristic Vision
The ultimate goal is to utilize the nervous system itself and to obtain a natural movement of "artificial muscles." At present, amputees have the ability to run, cycle and ski, with even further encouragement coming from a man in England, who had the first fully powered electrical shoulder fitted. Indications are that the developments in prosthetics will enable even greater normality of life for amputees