Prosthetics is the technology for assisting individuals missing limbs, using a combination of “appropriate materials, alignment, construction and design to match the functional needs of the user” (Georgia Tech, n.d., p.1)…
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Prosthetics are designed to improve the functional challenges facing those without upper and lower limbs and even provide a more satisfactory cosmetic appearance. Prosthetic technology has come a long way since its introduction in 4000 B.C. when Egyptians utilized fiber to fashion prosthetic limbs. Throughout history, adaptations to prosthetics occurred as a result of industrial advancements and scientific research. Archaeologists have discovered bronze pegs used to simulate lost limbs (Levy, 2012). During the Dark Ages, individuals used wooden peg legs with fashioned wood, metal and leather crutches for support (Levy). By the 1500s, iron was used to simulate limbs with a new ability to use metallurgy to fashion joints to allow for more flexible movement. By the 1900s, rubber technology, robotics, and microprocessor technologies contributed to a revolution in prosthetic technology that brought a better lifestyle to people missing arms and legs. 21st Century advancements in prosthetic technology have far overshadowed the rather primitive breakthroughs all throughout history, giving amputees or those born missing limbs due to genetic irregularities more freedom toward living a normal life. Such advancements even give individuals requiring prosthetics sensation and nearly 100 percent viability in certain limbs that can simulate regular movement. Despite these rather marvelous advancements, however, there is not currently enough sociological or psychological research being conducted to provide additional support for those using modern prosthetics. Advancing Technologies Significant modernized advances in prosthetic technology include the use of micro-processors to assist in the functionality of prosthetic devices. Known as the power knee, this type of prosthetic maintains computerized systems that align the function of the device with the tangible movement of the leg, ensuring coordination (Levy, 2012). For those with below-knee amputations, similar technology includes a motorized ankle that also coordinates movement using a form of sensor technology (Levy). Furthermore, the iLimb hand prosthetic is able to detect electrical signals from the users’ brains, allowing for self-motivated opening and closing of the prosthetic’s fingers to further their mobility and function. Electrodes are also fashioned to many prosthetic devices manufactured in recent years allowing for spontaneous motion from the user’s brain on spring-loaded feet (Levy). Scientists are also working on bionic technology that maintains a brain-user interface that allows for instantaneous movement at the users’ whim (Zhou, 2010). This device is partially based on previous research studies from the 1960s and 1970s involving research with neurons in monkeys and then attempting to reprocess these signals through computerized software. One of these prosthetic devices currently in prototype testing is the Modular Prosthetic Limb, an artificial arm that is controlled with a thought (Zhou). The goal is to create a micro-array that is implanted directly into the user that stimulates the mind with direct sensory feedback from the prosthetic device (Zhou). This would revolutionize the relationship between user and the prosthetic device, theoretically providing for more realistic movement and normal lifestyle. Another method being developed and run through testing is the direct implantation of the device itself directly into the patients’ bones (Zhou). Using this method, a titanium bolt is used with the hopes that the bone will directly
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