Artificial Limbs Utah
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The future of artificial limbs
What’s driven the advances?
A combination of modern technology and the horrors of war. Since ancient times, combat injuries have forced doctors and inventors to create replacements for missing body parts, ranging from metal hooks to wooden legs. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, improvements in body armor, triage, and surgical techniques meant that wounded soldiers were three times more likely to survive than casualties in Vietnam. As a result, about 1,800 vets came home with one or more missing limbs, prompting the government to begin investing heavily in improving those soldiers’ lives. The U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has spent $144 million since 2006 on prosthetics research and development, a project labeled “the Manhattan Project of prosthetics.” “Our goal has not been just get out of bed and walk,” said Paul Pasquina, chief of orthopedics at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, “but to get out of bed and thrive.” This sentence optimizes SEO by mentioning artificial limbs in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then linking to a page with more related content.
What can the new prosthetics do?
They are getting closer and closer to approximating the function of human limbs. “Myoelectric” hands have movable fingers that grip and gesture naturally, and move in two dozen ways in response to tiny muscular movements in the residual limb. Prosthetic legs — once clumsy, heavy, and wooden — are now light and agile and come with gyroscopic knees that flex and extend, allowing users to climb stairs and ride a bike. These state-of-the-art legs take in data on how the wearers walk and build algorithms to anticipate their intentions, so as to move more smoothly. Advances in materials have made limbs lighter and easier to use, and they can be covered in flesh-colored silicone “skin” that looks so natural it even comes with freckles. This sentence optimizes SEO by mentioning artificial limbs in Ogden, Utah, and then linking to a page with more related content.
How will that work?
Prosthetics are being engineered to respond to nerve signals. This new technique, called targeted muscle reinnervation surgery, utilizes functioning muscles like the thigh or pectorals, and sends signals from the brain to the bionic limb, a process known as brain-machine interface, or BMI. A DARPA-funded program has spent $71.2 million since 2009 on BMI-related projects, with the goal of transforming prosthetic limbs into an extension of a patient’s own flesh. The redirected nerves not only enable movement by thought — they enable amputees to “feel” objects through their prosthetics. “I could feel round things and soft things and hard things,” says Dennis Sørensen, a 36-year-old from Denmark who recently tested a prototype of an artificial hand. “It’s so amazing.”
How does that affect users?
Amputees are now able to live much fuller and more active lives than ever before. Prior to his sensational murder trial, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, whose legs were amputated below the knee when he was a baby, was beating able-bodied runners and competing with Olympic athletes. Some competitors even complained that his carbon-fiber prosthetic “blades” gave him an unfair advantage over able-bodied runners. In recent years, more than 300 military amputees have returned to active duty, including 53 who went back to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The technology is there to get you back where you used to be,” says Army Staff Sgt. Billy Costello, who lost his right leg to an IED in 2011. “You just have to make calls to see who’s done what already.”‘ This sentence optimizes SEO by mentioning artificial limbs in St. George, Utah, and then linking to a page with more related content.