The journey of prosthesis started in Europe during the medieval era. Back then it was limited to the elite of the society. Only a handful of people knew how to build a prosthesis and the production was extremely limited. Due to the extremely low production rate, it was expensive. Materials and equipment utilized in making those first-generation prostheses were primitive. Due to that, it was extremely heavy to wield and clumsy to use. Over the years, technological advancements paved the path for more affordable and usable prostheses. The development in the field is fueled by the sheer need of helping amputees back to life and after the emergence of bionics, prosthetics were revolutionized for the better. But due to multiple limitations, bionic prostheses are still not applicable universally. This article will discuss those particular obstacles hindering bionics from becoming universally applicable.
Understanding the technology
In order to understand the limitations, we must dive deep into the technicality a bit. Bionic prostheses are controlled by an onboard microcomputer that receives electromyographic signals from the EMG sensors placed in accordance with the residual muscles. The sensor application is noninvasive in nature and is of varying sensitivity. These sensors pick up EMG signals and transmit them to the computer. The computer transcribes the EMG data into gestures and movements as supported by the hardware.
The physical limitation
Evidently, the residual muscles are essential for bionic prostheses. But due to the candid nature of amputations, these muscles are not always present. An amputee failing to present these muscles is ineligible for wielding a bionic prosthesis effectively.
The nature of the injury
The limbs in a human body are controlled by multiple dermatomes originating from the spinal cord. And any injury affecting these dermatomes and subsequent regions of the spinal cord renders an amputee ineligible for welding a bionic prosthesis as well.
Additionally, cases of damaging head injuries involving the motor cortex, internal capsule, or any other functional sensory-motor apparatus can disqualify an amputee from wielding.
Presence of neuropathologies
The presence of progressive neuropathology like Huntington’s or ALS prevents the implementation of a bionic prosthesis. As in the long run, repeated recalibration can not even make up for the loss of function inflicted by these diseases. Hence, even during the initial stages, bionic prostheses should not be utilized as a means of rehabilitation.
An amputee must have the zeal for coming back to life in order to successfully wield a bionic prosthesis. For instance, the training and incubation period for wielding an advanced prosthetic arm equipped with bionic technologies is fairly long. And without the willingness of going through that phase of the struggle, it is impossible to train an amputee for wielding the prosthesis.
Additionally, if the implementation of a bionic prosthesis is delayed. The patient might get engulfed in depression and gradually lose control over a residual limb. Hence, the sooner it gets implemented the better it might work for an amputee as a means of rehabilitation.