The prosthetic limbs technology is a boon to those who have lost their arms or legs due to injuries. This technology is undergoing a continuous improvement in order to make artificial limbs more efficient and effective.
The artificial limbs are used for amputees to restore their limb functionalities to some extent. With development in technology, the prosthetic limbs are increasingly becoming efficient and refined than their earlier forms. The example of Marcus Sergius, a Roman general is always mentioned to notify the antiquity of prosthetic limbs. This Roman general had lost his right hand in a war. The prosthetic iron hand allowed him to hold the shield while in a sword fight (Punic War). Today, the prosthetic technology has undergone a sea change from those ancient times. The technology has proved to be of great help for the amputees who can now perform various day-to-day chores with artificial limbs. Here is a short account of information about prosthetic limb technology.
Structure of Prosthetic Limbs
A prosthetic limb is made of different parts and each of these has a special functionality. Pylon, suspension system and socket are these parts of prosthetic limbs.
It is a component of an artificial limb that resembles the skeleton. The pylon is a frame that supports weight of your body (in case of an artificial leg). Earlier, metal was used in the construction of pylons. Nowadays, carbon-fiber composites are commonly used in the manufacturing of these artificial limbs.
The socket is a portion which provides space for residual limb to fit in. Snug fitting is important for making the prosthetic limb comfortable to wear. A lining of foam-like material is used to make the prosthesis comfortable for the amputee.
The traditional system of harness makes use of belts and straps to keep the prosthetic limb attached to the body. Nowadays, the mechanism of suction is used for keeping these limbs attached to the body.
Types of Prosthesis
There are many variations in the types of prosthetic limbs used for amputees. The major types are cosmetic and controllable. Cosmetic limbs don’t offer any control over movement (i.e. advanced movements of joints). If we think about the controllable ones, there are many sub-types. Here are some of these.
Body-powered Prosthetic Limbs
These limbs are controlled by switches present on parts (not near the amputated limb) of the body. Cables arising from prosthetic limbs prove to be helpful in controlling them.
Movements of the residual or amputated muscles are used in controlling such artificial limbs. Electrodes fitted on these prosthetic limbs are used to capture the electrical signal emitted from the residual muscles.
Classification Based on Positioning
There are different types of prosthesis and which are classified on the basis of their positioning.
It is a prosthesis fitted above the level of knee. Those amputees who have lost their knees can benefit from such prosthetic limbs. Structure of these limbs also have an artificial knee incorporated in the design.
It is an artificial limb meant for those who have lost a portion of natural leg below the level of knees. Getting used to transtibial prosthesis is much easier than to the transfemoral owing to the presence of natural knee.
This type of prosthesis is used for those who have lost their elbows. The transhumeral prosthesis is also referred to as above elbow prosthesis (AE).
The transradial prosthesis is similar to transtibial one because of their positioning below the joints (elbow and knee) regions.
Biosensors are an important component of the robotic prosthetic limb. These sensors help in detecting the signals from muscular and nervous system of the body. The signals are sent to a processor which sends appropriate commands to the limb. The robotic limb performs various actions on receiving these commands. The myoelectric limb is one of the examples of robotic prosthetic limbs. The development of technology has helped mankind to overcome problems in medical field, health care, communication, etc. The robotic limb technology is amongst important ones.
The prosthetic limbs have to be custom-made for every other person. Measurements of amputated limbs are taken for the purpose of preparing a mold. The prosthetic limb made with these measurements is first tried on the mold before actual use. Many details and facts are taken into account in the process of installation of artificial limbs. The above article just provides a snapshot of applications of this technology.