The first mentioned prosthesis was apparently made in the middle ages. A talented blacksmith from Nuremberg used to design these first-ever prostheses for the noble, wealthy and privileged. Due to the necessary craftsmanship and materials, prostheses always remained available for the wealthy and important of a society. Only recently the scenario is changing. In this era of globalization, humans are connected in more than one possible way and the collective load of amputations around the world can slow down the progress of our species. Hence, by the demand of our time prostheses are becoming more and more accessible with time.
From the time of its inception, prosthetics received multiple benefits from advancements in allied disciplines. And in this era of neurosciences, the most promising enhancement came as bionics. After the emergence of bionics, prostheses became more usable and were able to listen to the user’s will.
A bionic prosthesis is controlled by a powerful microcomputer located on-board the device. This computer translates EMG signals into gestures and movements in accordance with hardware support. The electromyogram signal in discussion is generated by residual muscles present post-amputation. These muscles generate EMG signals during movement, which is picked up by non-invasive EMG sensors and fed to the computer.
But in spite of this technological achievement and prowess, bionic prostheses are not for every amputee. This article will discuss the reason and try to shed light on a few probable solutions.
No muscle no function
As the working mechanism of a bionic prosthesis suggests, the source of input for the device is the residual muscles. Hence, without the muscles, a bionic prosthetic arm can not perform at all. Amputations are extreme measures taken for saving a life from deadly scenarios. And due to their candid nature, they fail to retain the relevant muscles all the time. Hence the amputees who have all the muscles in the process can not wield a bionic prosthetic arm.
This absence of musculature can be bypassed with a slightly invasive sensor placement paradigm. The emergence of the neuromusculoskeletal sensor placing paradigm is instilling hope in those people who failed to retain the residual muscles. These sensors are invasive and able to reach the sensory nerves, hence they can transmit sensory information to the brain.
Better wielding experience
The wielder of a bionic prosthesis receives an empowering experience. And with the progress in material and physical sciences, the materials used in the build of a prosthesis have become stronger and lighter than before. The materials in use are of high strength to weight ratio and the quality is increasing with time. Alloys and carbon fibres are getting more preference due to their versatile nature.
The inner linings of bionic prostheses are also being made by superhydrophobic materials for better hygiene and low water retention. Silicone elastomers are being used for providing the expected degree of hygiene. These elastomers are superhydrophobic, soft and known for reduced friction. Hence the material is optimum for hygiene and comfort.