Whether you were born like this or were the victim of an accident or disease, having to wear a prosthetic may be challenging. Having a missing body part is much different than a case of whiplash or a bad cold. It’s a situation where you lose a physical piece of yourself – although it doesn’t have to be permanent.
Prosthetics allow amputees or those born with physical abnormalities to regain function in the missing body parts. Unfortunately, we aren’t like worms or starfish and can’t simply regrow parts. Instead, people must create artificial body parts. It’s fantastic to see the different fields that tackle this task.
Sometimes, this is the work of doctors or engineers. There are also many times where we see wholesome stories about artists or local teens creating them in class. Prosthetics were around for a long time, but people always seem to find new and exciting ways to reinvent them. However, there are just some things that require a little more sophistication.
What are some setbacks of traditional prosthetics?
Prosthetics aim to serve a superficial and functional purpose. On a superficial note, users want to like them. Some people prefer that their prosthetics look as natural as possible. Having natural-looking prosthetics helps give users an organic impression that helps them adjust to the new situation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some others like to have decorative ones, especially young children who think it’s cool to look like Ironman or have a hot pink arm.
These devices are more than mere accessories, though, and do serve a functional purpose. They allow users to “use” missing body parts in varying levels of sophistication. Simpler models merely act the part and allow for something to lean on (or set glasses of in cases of facial or ear prosthetics). Complicated models allow for complex movements, such as grasping hands.
Still, while useful, these traditional prosthetics lack something. One of the crucial things they lack is the ability to feel tactile stimuli or react like a limb. Researchers looking to advance the field of prosthetics try to tackle these problems. While there are many different approaches researchers may take, neural prosthetics seem to be the way of the future.
What does the future of prosthetics look like?
We can look at some of the promising research out there today to speculate what the future holds. Neural prosthetics have a lot to offer compared to many other projects. What are they exactly?
People sometimes refer to neural prosthetics as “mind-control” prosthetics. This name comes from the fact that they are doing it. Essentially, someone controls the fine movements with their mind. While they aren’t doing it through mental commands like someone straight out of a comic book, they may do it using specific neural activations.
After some training to teach users how the commands work (and some time of getting used to the commands), neural prosthetic movement feels more organic. It becomes actions you can do on instinct, like riding a bicycle! It’s an excellent solution for many who lost limbs due to abnormalities, defects, or disease.
The best part is, there is no age limit. Despite the complicated tech, you don’t need to understand the science behind neural prosthetics to control the devices. Nearly anyone – whether you lost your limb in an automobile accident or suffered from disease – may benefit from them.
Neural prosthetics are just a tiny sneak peek into the future of medical devices. Science is finding new and exciting ways to reinvent what we should expect from a modern medical facility. There are still many different things science has to explore. As we speak, labs are researching other techniques that enable prosthetics to provide tactile feedback.
In other words, there are artificial materials that can mimic the sensation of feeling! Further modern prosthetic research tries “hacking” muscle impulses so that devices run on muscle signals that would typically direct an arm how to move. These advances may theoretically allow for moveable prosthetics with minimal training.
Looking again from the superficial side, researchers explore different materials to imitate flesh or muscles to give prosthetics the most natural appearance possible. Sometime shortly, we may have the ability to combine all of this research and create a prosthetic that delivers all of these advancements under a single device.
Where can I learn more about the latest prosthetics?
It’s challenging to stay on top of all the latest trends and publications. Medical research advances so quickly that professionals often struggle to know about what’s available. Still, it’s crucial to stay on top of this information, primarily if you work in fields where encountering amputations is not out of the question.
Whether you work at a hospital or the local pain clinic, staying up-to-date with the latest scientific discoveries is incredibly important. It’s up to you to know about the latest and greatest treatments – whether it be recommendations to the chiropractor for whiplash or how to give an amputee their best rehabilitation experience. While you don’t need to read every publication that comes out, following reports through reputable sources is a great idea.
Thank you for listening to this episode of RMG Talks. Catch a new episode every first Thursday of the month at 4 PM EST. RMG Talks is a new podcast series brought to you by Regional Medical Group, as a way to connect with our audience at home during these uncertain times. RMG Talks is a personal injury medical and law informational podcast channel that offers next-level entertainment and business news to its listeners. Hosted by our RMG team, we are now streaming on all major listening platforms. Start listening, https://rmgtalks.com/.