Published on December 3rd, 2013 | by Dean Saliba1
Robotic Prosthetics: Are Bionic Limbs in Our Future?
Marco-Abel Nordio’s background in electrical technology has spurred a lifelong interest in robotics and automated devices. Some of the most exciting advances in robotics have been made in the field of medical prosthetics. These replacements for missing limbs have become more like the real thing and can even take cues from the patient’s own nervous system in some cases. Here are two of the most exceptional advances in robotic prosthetics in recent years.
3-D Printing Makes Prosthetic Replacement Easy
For one Colorado teenager, the increasing availability of 3-D printers inspired the creation of a printable and programmable robotic arm. Easton LaChappelle designed and fabricated the prototype arm, which provides many of the same functions that a flesh-and-bone arm performs. The robotic prosthetic cost less than $500 to create using a 3-D printer. The headband controller is capable of picking up signals from brain activity and can adjust the movements of the arm in response to those signals. The success of LaChappelle’s printed prosthesis offers hope for a more affordable approach to prosthetics in the future.
Powered by Phantom Limb
Many amputees report that they still experience physical feeling in their absent limbs. A new kind of prosthetic arm designed and constructed by Johns Hopkins University uses the nerve signals that cause phantom limb sensations to control the actions and movements of the artificial arm. Because the nerves that control the arm are the same as those used to control natural arm movement, patients can enjoy an unparalleled degree of control and mobility with these new prosthetic arms and hands.
As technological advances in robotics continue to revolutionize the world of science, amputees will derive the benefits of these ongoing research efforts and will enjoy even better replacements for their lost limbs and extremities.