Prosthetics started its journey in the medieval ages. Back then, the prostheses were made up of wood metal and other heavy materials rendering the prosthesis utterly ineffective and clumsy. These first-generation prostheses were first documented in Europe and were restricted to the social upper class. Due to its high price and extremely limited availability. The use of prostheses was limited to the wealthy and powerful and it severely lacked the reach needed for mass acceptance.
The progress in the field of prosthetics is fueled by the demands of humanity. A load of amputations slows down the progress and renders an entire society paralyzed. And Prosthetics is the ideal answer to that. With prosthetics, We can now give back some of the lost abilities to the amputees and maybe bring some of them back into life.
We are living in the era of neuroscience, and the biggest blessing prosthetics received from contemporary research in bionics. After the Emergence of bionics, the question of efficiency and actions were addressed with finesse. Prostheses changed for the better and were able to give back more in terms of abilities. This article will discuss the shortcomings of bionics and try to elaborate why in spite of the shortcomings bionics is the best option present at the moment.
Bionics is not for everyone
A bionic prosthesis is controlled by an onboard microcomputer. This computer is adept at translating electromyographic signals into actions in accordance with the hardware capabilities. The electromyographic signals originate from the residual muscles and non-invasively placed EMG sensors pick up the signals and feed them to the microcomputer.
Hence, amputees who fail to retain these muscles are ineligible for wielding a bionic prosthesis. Additionally, Any disabling injury affecting the relevant dermatomes can render an amputee ineligible to wielding a bionic prosthesis. A bionic prosthesis requires a fairly long duration for calibration and training of the wielder. This duration is important for the optimal functioning of a bionic prosthesis. And the presence of neuropathology only complicates the situation. Hence, a thorough diagnosis and treatment are recommended before initiating the conditioning process.
Bonics lack the ability of sensory reception
A bionic prosthesis receives electromyographic signals from the residual muscles. And the sensors are placed on the amputee’s skin in a non-invasive manner. When it comes to application this non-invasive nature is full of advantages. But due to this nature these sensors can not reach the deep embedded sensory neurons.
This problem is concluded by the emergence of neuromusculoskeletal sensors. These sensors are invasive and require complex surgical interventions for installation. These sensors can reach the sensory nerves and if accompanied by receptors can feed sensory information to the brain.
A bionic robot arm can perform quite a lot of tasks depending on the hardware. A modern-day prosthesis is made up of materials with high strength to weight ratio. As a result, they are more durable and light. But the hardware they pack is far from accurately imitating a human arm. The actions a bionic prosthesis can perform are limited and programmed for serving absolute necessities.
Till the next generation arrives
The next generation of prostheses might not be of mechanical origin. Given the progress in the field of stem cell technology and developmental biology, 3d printed organs might reach the market sooner than anticipated. But still, the next generation bionic prosthesis will remain the best solution at hand. And due to the easy applicability of bionic prosthesis, it has become an easier option for rehabilitation.
But in our country, awareness regarding these devices is still in its infancy. Many amputees deprive themselves helplessly due to a severe lack of knowledge. And many prostheses present in the market are far beyond the financial reach of our citizens. But the ray of hope is on the horizon. An Indian company is manufacturing prosthesis packed with bionic technologies and promising a fraction of expense in purchase and maintenance. With ventures and innovations like these, the field of prosthetics is thriving with finesse and confidence. And the awareness regarding these amazing devices is bound to increase, with increased availability and lower maintenance cost.