The medical definition of a prosthesis is: “An artificial substitute for a missing part, such as an eye, limb, or tooth, used for functional or cosmetic reasons, or both.” Engineering advances in the field of surgical amputation and the art and science/technology of designing artificial limbs have made it possible for persons who have lost a limb to receive a prosthesis that is able to function efficiently while looking like the original. Frequently the resuming of normal activities is possible within a relatively short time. Ultimately, physical challenges will no longer exist—that’s the goal. The lives of combat veterans and side effects of major diseases/illnesses will be changed and full functionality of the human body will be restored. The following are some of the latest advances in this amazing and challenging effort involving multiple engineering disciplines.
Click on the slideshow image below to see some engineering marvels that will demonstrate the advances of this discipline that will remove the “physically challenged” phrase from our society:
Click on the slideshow image below to see some amazing photos that might give you a feel for the technical advancements in this field:
A powered ankle-foot prosthesis (PAFP) is shown here. Researchers have improved the energy efficiency and reduced weight and size, while maintaining the instantaneous power needed for natural operation in walking and running and jumping. It was found that parallel elastic actuators (PEAs) are able to reduce the energy requirement and peak power of the actuating motor by using the elastic devices to store and release energy in operation.
(Image courtesy of Design of Powered Ankle-Foot Prosthesis Driven by Parallel Elastic Actuator , F. Gao, W. Liao, B. Chen, H. Ma, L. Qin, 2015 IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR))