Prosthetics is just another word for ‘Artificial limbs’. These artificial body parts replace limbs that aren’t there anymore due to amputation or accident. For hundreds of years, many forms of Prosthetics have existed in our lives. These aid them in being able to live their life without the downfall of missing limbs. A person's prosthesis will depend on the type of amputation or the location of the missing limb or extremity, as well as how the amputation or limb loss occurred.

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Prosthetic Limbs

So what exactly are prosthetic limbs?

Prosthetics is just another word for ‘Artificial limbs’. These artificial body parts replace limbs that aren’t there anymore due to amputation or accident. For hundreds of years, many forms of Prosthetics have existed in our lives. These aid them in being able to live their life without the downfall of missing limbs. A person’s prosthesis will depend on the type of amputation or the location of the missing limb or extremity, as well as how the amputation or limb loss occurred. 

In the early days of this technology (roughly 600 BC), the most advanced form of limb replacement was the use of “peg legs” made of wood. You will have seen this depicted in pirate films and cartoons, where the loss of a limb is replaceable by wood. Believe it or not, Captain Hook’s hook is a prosthetic as it replaces the lost limb.  

Wooden limbs are no longer in practice. They were hard to make, uncomfortable to wear and unable to work to the best of their ability. Over the years, medical technology has advanced to a much greater level where the use of prosthetics has become robotic. Prosthetics are not just used as arms and legs but are a much more varied and vast spectrum of medical aid. 

There are seven different types of prosthetics, and they are as such;

Firstly we have External Prosthetic Limbs, which replace arms and legs. These have a limited range of movement but can pick things up, scratch your nose, walk, and cover all the necessities of action. These can be difficult to use, as there is no connection between your brain and the prosthetics as the nerves are lacking. 

Secondly, myoelectric limbs are fitted externally with a battery or electronic source. They work by detecting muscle movement using electronic sensors. The activity is translated to the surface and transmitted to microsensors. 

A significant disadvantage of this is that the battery and electronic pack inside of it make it extremely heavy. These limbs can also have an issue with the processing of commands. 

Thirdly we have Osseointegration. Osseointegration came into daily lives in the 1950s, when the human bone cells could attach to the metal surfaces of the prosthetic limb. It secures the new stem to the human skeleton permanently. Because this is attached to the structure, it has a much better range of movement. Many recipients have confirmed that this is a very realistic limb replacement.

Unfortunately, these can be extremely expensive to buy and are highly unsustainable to different types of amputees.

Next, we have Mind‐Controlled Bionic Limbs. These prosthetic devices can be incorporated into the body and respond to comments from the nervous system. It can then replicate a relatively normal movement and hasn’t got much of a lag time between commands and actions. 

Then, Targeted Muscle Reinnervation uses the nerves left over after the initial amputation. The motivations link to a computer that can transmit and move the new stem. The same impulses are to control the new limb where the brain would naturally control flesh and blood. 

We have Implanted Myoelectric Sensor Technology (IMES). IMES is where the implanted technology doesn’t work using the nerves. These never need to be replaced. It doesn’t take too long to get it to work. 

Lastly, we have Cosmetic Improvements, which are basically 3D printing technology that helps people get prosthetics that match their bodies. These are silicone or PVC. Since each person is different, the prosthetics should be too. They can compare their remaining limbs with the right skin complexion and use identifying marks like freckles.

Knowing all of these fantastic things that prosthetics can do for someone, it’s hard to think there could be any disadvantages. However, not only is the expense of manufacturing and buying extraordinarily high but there are also a lot of issues with their usage.

Overuse of prosthetics can lead to back pain and can overstress the rest of your body. There is also the issue that many prosthetics aren’t as versatile as they need to be. They cannot guarantee you will be able to do everything you would have with your original limb. 

At the point where the prosthetic is attached, it can cause a rash or irritation. Putting the prosthetic on and off can also be challenging and discomforting.  It can also become tiring to carry it around all day and significantly affect your ability to move around. 

Unfortunately, there is also a psychological issue with using prosthetic limbs. Amputees will have to cope with the loss of their stem and the irritation of pain in needing to use a bionic one! It can have a very negative effect on someone’s body image as well. 

What do you think about prosthetic limbs? Which one do you think works best?

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