If you need to replace a prosthetic limb or are faced with the possibility of getting one for the first time, you'll find you have a much wider choice than you realized. New technology is making these artificial body parts look and act more and more like real limbs every year. The technology only continues to get better. Here are a few advances that are being tested both in the lab and in real life.
One breakthrough that's still being checked out in the lab environment is the skin sensor. Scientists created an elastic skin-like covering that contains tiny sensors that could send signals through a prosthetic limb to the user's brain, giving that user a sort-of sense of touch. While this is still in the testing phases, experiments have shown that the skin and the sensors in it were able to transmit correct information about what the skin was touching, including dampness. The skin also contains heating modules that make the skin feel warm, like real skin.
One way to make prosthetics seem more real is to make them look more realistic, and there are techniques being developed to match skin tones, add freckles, and make the limbs look like they match the user's body. The prosthetic technique includes adding tattoos if so desired.
This may be one of the funkiest potential advancements for artificial limb users. In the lab, scientists have created scaffolding that, when attached to severed nerves in rat limbs, promoted the growth of those nerves. The nerves attached to the scaffolding, and researchers think that once they get the right interface, they will be able to create fused limbs that users can operate the limb through their nervous system, much like people do with their real limbs.
If talk of research that hasn't hit the market yet is making you pine for the future, there is an advance available right now: myoelectrics. Research in this field has led to limbs that can detect the electrical signals given off by muscles, and users can move the limb by manipulating muscles above it (such as the shoulder to control an artificial arm).
Contact your doctor or a company such as Human Technology to discuss how something like myoelectrics would work in your life to give you more ability to move the limb. You may also hear about new options that have made the transition from the lab to life.
During my first pregnancy, I spent a lot of time pushing pillows behind my back trying to find comfort. As the size of the baby grew, so did my discomfort. By the time she was born, I was more than ready to give birth. When I found out I was pregnant again, I was determined that I would not suffer through the same discomforts. I started researching ways to ease the symptoms of pregnancy, including back pain. I created this blog to help other expectant moms find remedies to deal with those symptoms that can be emotionally and physically draining.