Throughout the world, the primary objective of prosthetics is to restore the functional capacity formerly held by a limb-deficient person all while attaining the best cosmetic result and deemed necessary by the patient. Although this varies by nation, affordability and accessibility are crucial now more than ever with inflation on the incline in the United States. In recent decades, tremendous strides have been made in technology and medicine. Artificial devices such as prosthetics combine these two fields. Undoubtedly, the best prosthetics are those that anyone can afford.
Who's Using Prosthetics?
There are different causes of limb loss, such as trauma, infection, diabetes, congenital, vascular disease, cancer, and diseases with the potential of resulting in limb loss. Who should be considered for fitting with a prosthesis? The decision should be based on available resources. Individuals with below-the-knee amputations are at the top of the priority list since, in most countries, they comprise the majority of the amputees and benefit the most from being fitted with prosthetic devices. Many upper-extremity amputees reject any prosthetics provided the amputation is unilateral (one limb) or bilateral (two limbs). Generally, adults who have sustained an upper-extremity amputation find it more challenging to successfully manage after more than six months.
Some of the most recent developments this past decade. For example, consciously controlled limbs; with brain-controlled prosthetics using a brain implant for the user to control the stem. 3D printing has also largely impacted the prosthetic community worldwide, allowing both children and adults the opportunity to use lightweight, futuristic limbs in everyday life. These 3D-printed prosthetic limbs allow children in developing countries to gain some normality back. In some countries, it's even life-saving where civilians constantly face guerilla warfare and are maimed. Another improvement has been the design of prosthetics. Bulky prosthetics and silicone limbs help many people. Yet, the aesthetic of these products doesn't always match up to their incredible functionality. In addition, bionic arms are recent in which this technology utilizes electricity and robotics to create movement. The most lucrative sets of these arms use muscle sensors connected to the skin allowing the user to operate the limb effectively. Furthermore, nerve detectors control the prosthetic, utilizing the user’s mind to think they are actually moving the limb. The detectors operate via spinal motor neurons, allowing more commands to be detected by the sensors. This grants the prosthetic user to move freely, rather than be limited to a smaller amount of movements.
The first rule of prosthetics is that safety is essential, and once ensured, efficiency and dynamics come after. Along with the need for support for advancing prosthetics, individuals are missing the security needed with these devices. Yet, the average user will often experience obstacles such as intact limb pain, back pain, balance instability, general fatigue, skin irritation, socket discomfort, or not meeting that person's needs. All of these complaints depend on the availability of materials, resources, and skilled personnel. The availability, accessibility, and cost of prosthetics are significant concerns to limb deficient people who aren’t able to function without the assistance of a prosthetic device. Therefore, in developing countries, an overwhelming number of prosthetics is necessary.
Organizations such as the Amputee Coalition, Limbs for Life Foundation, and Prosthetic Hope International collect used prosthetics and components. These organizations are dedicated to providing fully-functional prosthetic care for individuals who can’t otherwise afford their own and for raising awareness of the challenges facing amputees. These results promise a future generation of prosthetics that can provide a natural user experience for anyone born with them.
Thanks for reading!
- Evonna Chisom