Evolution of Prosthetics

Over the past hundreds of years, prosthetics has evolved immensely, and the most notable breakthroughs have been in the past century. As a result, there are various and several prosthetics available today, and they are constantly being improved. However, the cost, tests and ethics are a major factor in how far prosthetics could potentially go.

Prosthetics are artificial devices used as for externally as internally for replacing or restoring certain parts of the body. These prosthetics help regain the lost functionality of the body part that unfortunately missing or malfunctioning. We know the most common types of prosthetics today such as the arm or the leg, and more recently, the heart !

The first invented prosthetics were very limited , their functionality was simply to make movement easier for people who had lost an extremity. This meant that for a leg that needed to be amputated, or that was lost in any way, there was initially no other prosthetic like device that was put in its place. It is thus, we can see, over the hundreds of years from when prosthetics were first engineered this has changed according to engineering.

Many amputations were necessary for reasons which were other than being wounded in combat. Thus, it really was not until World War II that the importance of having functional prosthetics escalated. When wounded soldiers from combat would return at home, replace a member was a very useful way to live a « normal » life again. . At this point in time, the United States government decided to help fund development and research of prosthetics to design prosthetics that were functional. From this point forwards, breakthroughs like the suction sock for aboveknee prosthetics and computerized prosthetics have paved the way for modern prosthetics today.

Nowadays, there are now three very common types of prosthesis available in the market. The first type of prosthesis is the cosmetic prosthesis. This type of prosthetic has low, passive functionality, and is generally used for upper limb amputations. The next type of prosthesis is the body-powered prosthesis. This type of prosthetic has a moderate level of functionality that is provided from muscles near the relative area of the prosthetic; it is generally used for upper limb amputations. Then the third type of prosthesis is the myoelectric prosthesis

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Of these three types of prosthesis, the most expensive is the myoelectric, ranging from $80,000-$100,000 due to the expensive technology in the device.

However, some major problems engineers and developers face is the relatively low amount of volunteers willing to test out new prototype designs. Prosthetics is a sensitive subject for most individuals and the majority do not feel comfortable testing out a prosthesis that is in the testing stage. An other major issue is the cost of the prosthesis. In order to have the most functional prosthetic on the market, it costs well above $80,000.

A main goal of current biomedical engineers working on prosthetics is to try to develop a more affordable prosthetic…


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