• Bernard P. Kemker, MD

How is Modern Prosthesis Enabling the People, Who Underwent Amputation?

A prosthetic device or prosthesis is a device that helps to replace, correct or support a body part or function of a body part that was either lost through trauma, disease, or congenital conditions.


As of 2005, nearly 2 million people in the United States were living with limb loss. That's approximately, 1 amputee in every 150 people, and that number is projected to double or triple by 2050.


Benefits of the prosthesis for people who underwent amputation

When someone loses a limb due to an injury or a disease, the functionality of the limb is lost as well, meaning the loss of the ability to perform job skills or normal activities of daily living. For a lower extremity amputee, this could mean the loss of the ability to walk or run.


In the past, wood, iron, and leather were used for making prostheses, however, modern prostheses are made of advanced plastics and carbon-fiber composites. These materials make a prosthetic limb lighter, stronger, and more realistic.


Modern technologies in the healthcare industry make today's advanced prosthetics more durable and controllable, even capable of automatically adapting their function during certain tasks, enabling them to do a variety of activities including picking, gripping, and walking.


Every prosthesis is custom built and fitted as each patient has different needs and different amputation sites.


Body powered prosthesis

In this type, cables are connected to the other parts of the body to control the prosthetic limb. For example, A prosthetic arm can be controlled by using a healthy shoulder. The working shoulder can be moved in certain ways to manipulate and control the prosthetic device to achieve certain motions or functions.


Externally powered prosthesis

The motors and servos used in this type are controlled by the patient in different ways. This means, that the patient can use a switch to control the prosthetic device by adjusting the button. When the patient controls the switches using the other working part of their body, it becomes possible for them to use the remaining muscles and the prosthesis in the residual limb for the intended activities.


Myoelectric prosthesis

A person can control their prosthetic limb by listening to the muscles that are still remaining in the residual limb that the patient can still contract. Although the muscles physically press no buttons in this case, their contractions are detected by the electrodes and then these signals are used to control the prosthetic limb.


Prosthesis based on Targeted Muscle Re-Innervation Procedure

Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) is an advanced surgical procedure that involves transferring the nerves that once controlled the amputated limb such as an arm or hand to reinnervate (restore function to) the remaining muscles. Based on a recent study, the patients who underwent TMR surgeries experienced less pain than patients who received standard treatments for amputated nerves. Additionally, this has the potential to enable amputee patients to return to their activities of daily living by improving prosthetic use and tolerance, and preventing or treating phantom limb pain and stump pain.


Takeaway

Maybe in the future, the advancements in technology and in healthcare can revolutionize the way prosthesis works. There is ongoing research in neural interfacing, which will allow artificial devices to more effectively stimulate the nerves or brain in order to restore a sense of touch and allow patients to feel their artificial limbs. This capability will go a long way in closing the gap between prosthetic limbs and the natural limbs they're designed to replace.


Decades ago, losing a limb would have posed an unfathomable number of challenges for people, permanently disabling them. But in recent years, thanks to the advancements in the development of prosthetic devices, it has opened the door to a new world of possibilities for amputees.


Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.

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