Prosthetics have been around for centuries; aiding injured and deformed people gain mobility and independence within their lives. The technologies of the prosthetics have developed greatly overtime, and continue to grow, so that the disadvantaged can almost live the life of an able bodied person. Scientists, doctors and inventors continue to forge the way of continual improvement of prosthetics. Now, mechanics are being successfully introduced, and seem as the long awaited key to replacement of limbs. Prosthetics have been paramount to the modernization of medicine and science, and continue to be at the forefront of medicinal inventions. Scientists have been able to track prosthetics far into our history, with the earliest discovered prosthetic found at a necropolis at Themes west. The mummified woman is believed to be 3000 years old, and the prosthesis (a toe) was a delicately carved, brown painted wooden stump. This was attached to the foot via plates and wrapped bandages and allowed the woman to walk, maintaining mobility. With the development of medicine, and the discovery of amputation, the need of prosthetics grew, and doctors and scientist alike developed now crude, innovative prototypes. Dr Ambroise Pare, 1829, a leader in medicinal amputation, began the scientific development of high tech prosthetics. However, it was not until 1975, til Ysidro M. Martinez, an amputee himself, developed a prosthesis that would not aim to resemble a human limb, but improve the gait and mobility of the amputee. This was a major turning point in the development of prosthetics. They were no longer viewed as ‘stumps’ out of readily available, heavy, unsuitable materials, but a scientific aid to the disadvantaged of society. Original prosthetics range in artificial devices, all aiming to recreate the use of lost limbs, either through accident, disease, birth defects or from a traumatic event. There are numerous prosthetics, for numerous types of missing limbs. They range from: * Transfemoral
for treatment of missing leg above the knee
for treatment of missing leg below the knee
for treatment of missing arm below the elbow
for treatment of missing arm above the elbow
* Feet/hands and smaller
Most of these involved heavy, static components that were based around stiff joints. These once modern prosthetics, were inventive for their time, but quickly aged and their flaws became obvious. The quality of these prosthetics varied. Some could be bought ‘pre-made’ and lacked realism, and seemed very plastic. The custom made versions were expensive, but were more comfortable and more efficient. However, both versions required replacement after 3-4 years after general wear and tear. This made all use of prosthetics expensive.
Modern prosthetics have evolved from such basic and crude ‘stump like’ aids, to mechanical limbs that almost replicate humans. Not only are they developing in image, but scientists are very close to ‘bio mechatronics’. These prosthetics interface directly with the muscle and nervous system to restore motor control. Via biosensors, mechanical sensors, a controller and the actuator, the human can regain movement and use of a limb, even if it is prosthesis. Biosensors detect the intent of the person for the limb, and this information is sent to an either internal/external controller, housed in or near the prosthesis. The mechanical sensors relate to the biosensors, and measure load and required limb position. The controller in the system interprets the biosensors messages, converting it to the actuator. This where the conversion from human to machine occurs. The actuator, like its name suggest, is the section of the machine that initiates force and is the artificial muscle. This allows the once disabled human to regain almost full control of the limb, using only their brain. This is a major step in the development of prosthetics and bio mechatronics,...