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The Future of Prosthetics: I like where we are headed! 

Andres Velasquez


Imagination: The Father of Technology

In the 1800s Jules Verne wrote about rockets that would go to the moon and submarines that would allow men to explore the vastness of the ocean. Back then who would have thought that going into space on a rocket or submarines would be a reality two centuries later?


Paul Hochman's Article

I just read an article by Paul Hochman titled “Bionic Legs, i-Limbs, and Other Super Human Prostheses You'll Envy”. I have to tell you that the future of prosthetics looks very promising; in fact so promising that it’s almost straight from a science fiction movie.


Prosthetics Researc and Development

Hochman’s article talks about all the research and development that is happening in the prosthetic industry. The article mentions companies like iWalk, which received $10 million to develop the PowerFoot One, which is supposed to be the “world’s first actively powered prosthetic ankle and foot”. Brown University’s Center for Restorative and Regenerative Medicine received $7 million in funding to add to the $7.2 million it received in 2004 from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Another place that is receiving an injection of research and development funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) is New Hampshire-based DEKA Research to develop Luke, a powered prosthetic arm named after who else, Luke Skywalker, the Star Wars character who lost his hand to Darth Vader in that legendary light saber fight.


A New Era In The Prosthetic Industry

The article by Hochman then goes on about how all the research and development money combined with the constant breakthroughs in materials and processor speeds create the kind of environment suitable for bringing upon a new era in the prosthetic industry. A new era that brings with it social impact as well, because very soon we as a society are going to change the way we see people affected by limb loss, even people affected by limb loss are going to begin to change the way the see themselves!


Possible Impact in Society

Up until now to be affected by limb loss in this society carries the “disability” tag with it. However, that has the potential to change with the new developments from the prosthetic industry. We are talking about prosthetics that have the potential to restore full functionality to the user; perhaps even further than that of someone who is not affected by limb loss, while at the same time this new prosthetics are beautifully designed, one could say that as beautifully designed as the latest sports car or tech gadget.

 

How do you feel about the promising future of prosthetics? Would you be willing to have surgery on your residual limb for a new prosthetic that would further increase your functionality?

 

Click here for Paul Hochman’s article “Bionic Legs, i-Limbs, and Other Super Human Prostheses You'll Envy”.
 



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Comments

tyxerym : re: The Future of Prosthetics: I like where we are headed! commented on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 7:49:50 AM
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Jenrobinson : re: The Future of Prosthetics: I like where we are headed! commented on Friday, January 22, 2010 4:32:26 PM
I think it's great that we can even have this discussion these days. I certainly think that society has a deep love affair with all-things-cyborg. Perhaps the recent attention to prosthetics in the media is tied to our fascination with these high-tech communication devices we are all sucked into. Everywhere I look, people are wearing phone ear pieces stuck to their heads, or obsessively typing away on tiny, glowing phone screens. We are wired-in, for sure. If you take this technology & our relationship to it to the next level of thought, these high-tech devices will actually become part of our bodies. We could really actually become bionic-- totally assimilated (...we are borg...). The idea of prosthetic limbs now becomes a really interesting thought, in how it fits into our idea of the future & the human body's relationship to technology. It's cool to think that this progress in technology keeps moving forward. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I were born in the 1900s with one leg. I collect antique prosthetic books and it's amazing to see the evolution. Why wouldn't it just keep evolving? The prosthetic technology keeps getting better, but the design of the human body itself... well, I can't say we're getting any stronger, quicker, or more streamlined. Will the prosthetic leg one day out-function one made of flesh? Interestig thought for sure. The reality of limb loss, though, is often a little different... a little less Star Trek Voyager, at least for now. The majority of amputations are caused by vascular disease and so, it follows, that the majority of lower extremity amputees (the most common level of amputation) are dealing with some very serious health issues. So would, in reality, most lower extremity amputees out-function those not living with limb loss? Not unless they came up with some superior bionic veins. But, as someone who lives with limb loss, I love that my prosthetic leg is considered 'supercool' by my kid & her friends. I love the idea that some people consider my body- the combination of flesh & metal- somewhat futuristic. But, hey- I was always a Star Trek fan. We have to remember that limb loss is... well, it's a loss. And people deal with losses in different ways. As 'cool' as the media thinks it is, we can't forget the psychosocial issues amputees deal with-- people who just want to move on with their lives, not necessarily wanting to become the next Bionic Woman or Million Dollar Man.

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