Results of the search show that there are significant improvements that have been made in the past few years. The research also shows that the problems that have plagued prosthetics before are no longer an issue. Each of the sections in the paper will refer back to original research done by one or more of the cited authors. The research presented here has profound implications for the future of amputee rehabilitation and may some day help amputee’s lives easier.
Key Words: Prosthetic, Hands, Neolithic, Technology, Advancement, Rehabilitation Introduction Most of the advances in prosthetic limb technology occur directly after times of war. This is unfortunately due to the amount of amputees coming home from fighting in a war. With the recent influx of soldiers coming home from the Middle East, the need for prosthetic limbs has reached a high once again. The high need for advanced prosthetics has driven both doctors and engineers to create more sophisticated devices.
Doctors and patients alike should become aware of the recent advances made in prosthetic limb technology. This review will focus on the advancements made in prosthetic hand technology. The purpose of this review is to summarize the search made by scientists and to present it to doctors and patients so that both can be familiarized with the most current advancements. L: Problems with current technologies of prosthetic hands Although some may argue that current prosthetic hand technologies are suitable to the average user, there are some glaring flaws in the designs of most of them.
The major issue with current technologies is the fact that they are heavy, slow, and run on a very limited supply of energy. (White, 2010) These obvious flaws are unfavorable for the user. If the prosthetic hand does not allow the user to carry out his or her daily activities, then what is the benefit of paying a large amount of money for it? Another major issue with current prosthetic hand technologies is that over time, the prosthetic hand starts to break down and need to be replaced. This process is inevitable and there is no sure way to avoid it. Nonfat, 2007) However, it would be a great benefit to the user if the prosthetic hands were made more durable and reliable so that people wouldn’t have to replace their prosthetic hands as often as they do. Simply put, future prosthetic hands need to be lighter, more efficient, reliable, and more durable. II: New technologies of prosthetic hands Current technologies rely on muscle sensors and Neolithic signals to detect voluntary muscle movement in the arm and hand. (Nonfat, 2007) Currently in development are brand new technologies that improve the overall performance of prosthetic hands.
In Hen’s article (2011) he talks about a new material sensing technology that allows sensors, when brought close to an object, to detect the material and set a maximum pressure depending on the object. This means the user will be able to exert enough force to grab something heavy, but won’t crush a fragile object, like an egg. A different technology that is discussed in White’s article (2010) is a new fingertip technology that allows for a lighter and more flexible design. This new technology is able to mimic the human movement and grip force of the human hand.
The new fingertip sensors will process information locally, which will cut back on the amount of wires needed in the hand. Another breakthrough in prosthetic hand technology is mentioned in Vizier’s article, (2009) which presents a new design of body-powered, voluntary closing hand prosthetic hand. It is argued that the movement of the fingers s much less relevant for good control of the object than the distribution of forces on the object once the object has been contacted. For a good distribution on the object, the prosthesis is made adaptive and flexible.
This force-directed design has led to a simple mechanism with a low operating force and good force feedback. One of the major stepping-stones for the improvement of prosthetic hands was the development of the I-Limb prosthetic hand system from Touch Bionics. (Aaron’s 2007) The I-Limb incorporated elements from each of the other innovations discussed earlier. The ‘-Limb is a first market-available prosthetic device with five individually powered fingers. It uses technology that allows electrodes on the skin’s surface to detect signals generated in the remaining portion of the patient’s limb.
With this technology the user is able to control the mechanical fingers as if they were their own. The I-Limb system looks and feels so real that users tend to treat it like a real hand. (Stuart 2009) They climb ropes with it, fire bows and arrows with it, and even try to do handstands with it. Because this technology is not meant for such heavy- duty activity, it often leads to damage done on the hand. Touch Bionics responded by introducing an even more durable version of its extremely popular ‘-Limb system.
Ill: New prosthetic technologies that function with the human body In the very distant future, we might have prosthetic hands that are half machine and half human. Or maybe through development with stem cell research, there can be no need for artificial limbs anymore because we could Just grow them back. These ideas are great, but in reality, they are harder to achieve than they might sound. The closest thing we have now to a cowboy-like arm is one that uses Neolithic signals given off y the user’s muscles to control the hand.
In Mafia’s lecture (2007) she talks about the extensive research being done in the field of physical therapy and prosthetic hands. This research may lead to comfortable, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive prosthetic hands. These hands will act in a nearly lifelike manner in response to the Neolithic signals. Work has also been done on the attachment of prosthetic limbs to residual bones, eliminating the need for weight bearing prosthetic sockets. This research can prove critical in the development and testing of prosthetic hands in the future.
It will bring together cellular and electronic research to create prosthetics that are part man and part machine. Lb. Affordable prosthetic hands Prosthetic devices for people of developing countries have always been hard to obtain. Not because people don’t sell them, but rather because of the price at which they are sold. A new prosthetic hand can cost someone anywhere from $10,000- $18,000. (Dish, 2008) This price is far too much for one person to pay. Many of the people in need of prosthetic hands lost their hands due to some disease. Many of these people are in extreme poverty and simply cannot afford these new cosmologies.
In an effort to make prosthetic hands more affordable, scientists are creating new hardware for prosthetic hands that are made of locally available materials to significantly reduce the cost. Dish’s article (2008) talks about new practical and low-cost hardware-based control system for multifunctional Neolithic hand prostheses. This system was designed to cater to the needs of patients in developing countries, where Neolithic prostheses are scarce and extremely expensive. The design relied on locally available components in order to lower the price.