How Do Modern Prosthetic Limbs Work?
Introduction To Modern Prosthetic Limbs
All prosthetic limbs are made in order to help people. From the ancient times until now, the purpose and the principle of prosthetic aids have been the same, but their design has changed radically. The first prosthetic limbs were made for practical purposes only, for example to help a soldier who lost his arm to hold a shield, or to help people be in balance if they were missing a leg. In addition to this, the early prosthetics were made with no sense of aesthetic, they were just plain wooden or metal devices fitted onto an arm or a leg. Today, however, prosthetic limbs have become a good substitute for actual arms or legs. They are made of modern materials; they have a design which remarkably resembles an actual limb and they are easy to use. With today's technology, people fitted with prosthetic limbs have even better use of the limb than before. The best example of this is Oscar Pistorius, also known as the "Blade Runner", a man who lost his both legs at the age of one and went on to be a Paralympics champion runner.
How Do Prosthetic Limbs Work?
There are several types of prosthetic limbs and each type has its own way of functioning:
- Body-powered prosthetic limbs - Their low cost, reliability, light weight and easiness of use make this the option most commonly used by amputees. They work using cables that enable parts of the prosthetic such as the fingers to move. This prosthetic limb is the most durable of all, since it contains no batteries and no electronic devices.
- Cosmetic prosthetic limbs - This type of prosthetic limb is designed only to look good and to resemble the lost limb as much as it can, but they often have no or little function. It can be very expensive if custom made, and this is the only way it can resemble the old limb.
- Externally powered prosthetic limbs - they can be myoelectric or switch-controlled. Myoelectric use muscle contractions to activate the functions of the prosthetic limb, while switch-controlled use small switches, usually hidden in the socket, to control the movement of the prosthetic limb.
- Robotic limbs - the most innovative type, but not currently ready for widespread use s yet. The robotic limb is controlled by the brain and its idea is to work the same as the previously lost limb. This is proving possible and real, but still there is a lot of research to be done in this field.
The main goal of prosthetic limb replacements is to give people who lost their limb or limbs a chance to regain self-confidence and to live a normal life like they once did. This is why prosthetic limbs are becoming more and more functional and comfortable and this is why people who lose a limb can go on and function in everyday life without any problems concerning the missing of their limb. Until it is possible to achieve this completely, medicine and technology will continue to develop in order to create an artificial limb that will be no different than a real one.