15. Top Advancements in Prostheses in 2020
Prostheses have progressed dramatically in recent years, with many people choosing to move away from the standard NHS-provided prostheses, to highly functioning, technologically advanced limbs. Here are the top advancements in prostheses in 2020.
With these types of prostheses now available on the market, there’s a wide range of options to choose from, especially for people looking to participate in different activities, such as driving, swimming, and cycling. Below, we have outlined the top 5 advances in prosthetic technology that we’re expecting to see in 2020.
Consciously controlled limbs
With brain-controlled prosthetics available, it certainly feels as if we’re reaching the peak age of artificial limbs. This technology is still in the early stages, with a brain implant having to be used for the user to control the limb. But research is progressing quickly, and we could see the next generation of prosthetic limbs being controlled without a brain implant in the very near future.
Their aim is to create wearables that use the same brain functions used to control movement, bringing in cognitive intelligence into to the actual prosthetics, allowing for complete integration without invasive brain surgery.
3D printing has not only become a phenomenon within the manufacturing and construction world but also throughout the prosthetic community. All over the world, 3D printing is allowing for the cost-effective creation of functioning, prosthetics, which is allowing both children and adults the opportunity to utilize lightweight, futuristic limbs in everyday life.
In some countries, it’s even saving lives. In countries, such as Sudan, where children are recruited into guerrilla armies, injured by firearms, landmines, and rival groups, these 3D printed prosthetic limbs are giving these children and teenagers in developing countries the chance to gain some normality back. As technology improves, we’d expect to see the sophistication of these 3D-printed limbs increase further.
Although bulky prosthetics and silicone limbs help thousands of people, the aesthetics of these products don’t always match up to their incredible functionality.
However, industrial designer, William Root, has created an innovative and modern prosthetic utilizing titanium, which allows him to create intricate and unique designs for each person. Functional and very, very cool.
By utilizing electricity and robotics to create movement, bionic arms seem to be something we can only dream of in the future, but they’re already being created today. The state-of-the-art prosthetics use muscle sensors connected to the skin, allowing the user to operate the limb effectively.
Similar to bionic limbs, nerve detectors control the prosthetic, utilizing the user’s mind to think they are actually moving the limb. The technology behind it operates via spinal motor neurons, instead of just muscle, like a bionic arm. This allows more commands to be detected by the sensors, permitting the prosthetic to move more freely, rather than be limited to a smaller amount of movements. There are only some of the top advancements in prostheses in 2020.
Commercially available prosthetic models utilize surface electrodes that are limited by their disconnect between mind and device. As such, alternative strategies of mind–prosthetic interfacing have been explored to purposefully drive the prosthetic limb. This review investigates mind to machine interfacing strategies, with a focus on the biological challenges of the long-term harnessing of the user’s cerebral commands to drive actuation/movement in electronic prostheses. It covers the limitations of skin, peripheral nerve, and brain interfacing electrodes, and in particular the challenges of minimizing the foreign-body response, as well as a new strategy of grafting muscle onto residual peripheral nerves. In conjunction, this review also investigates the applicability of additive tissue engineering at the nerve-electrode boundary, which has led to pioneering work in neural regeneration and bioelectrode development for applications at the neuroprosthetic interface.
Top Advancements in Prostheses in 2020
Emerging technologies move surgeons, rehabilitation physicians, therapists, and prosthetists closer to the goal of creating highly functional prostheses with elevated sensory and motor control. Collaboration between medical teams, scientists, and industry stakeholders will be required to keep pace with patients who require durable, high-functioning prostheses. Finding the best prosthetist is vital to being able to take advantage of these new breakthroughs.