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Developments And Advancements In Prosthetic Technology: The AI Intervention

Alen Parker

The technical innovations in the last few years have made prosthetic products much more comfortable and responsive. We may expect further innovations in this domain given the levels of advancement in medicine and engineering. Needless to mention, prosthetic technology will require the dual invention of healthcare and engineering sciences to come up with breakthrough technologies.

There has also been a proliferation of prosthetic arm companies in the last decade and this suggests the commercialization potential of prosthetic products. In the last decade, a prosthetic arm company was limited both in terms of size and operation. Over the last 10 years, the growth in the prosthetic sector has been phenomenal and more than a hundred prosthetic companies are operating in India in 2021.

This article revolves around the various facets of prosthetics and also gives some glimpses of the advances in prosthetic technology.

Developments and advancements

There have been remarkable advances in prosthetic technology in the last decade and this development would continue in the near future as well. Some of the most important developments that we may witness are the following:

  • The direct skeletal intervention will become one of the most preferred options among amputees in the times to come
  • The level of versatility, mobility, and performance of prosthetic devices will continue to undergo rapid evolution and innovation.
  • We would see the further development of prosthetic products in line with intelligent microprocessors so that movement becomes as natural as possible.
  • We may also expect the funding constraints to be removed and prosthetic products to be incentivized in the times to come.
  • The use of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning would become pivotal for the development of future prosthetic products.
  • Silicone elastomers and other kinds of flexible products would be developed with the help of polymer technology. This would ensure that the artificial part to be incorporated is flexible and long-lasting at the same time.
  • The development of dynamic components with the help of plastic springs and intelligent mechanical components will be conceived. Use of carbon fiber composites and other materials with high strength will be commercialized shortly.
  • The research and development for developing shock-absorbing components is receiving much more funding than ever before. This research is being carried out keeping in mind the requirements and needs of the athletes and other sports persons.
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The AI intervention

The intervention by artificial intelligence in the domain of prosthetic technology has made it possible to conceive intelligent products that can coordinate with the functioning of the nervous system as well as the human brain. For instance, let us consider the example of the development of an artificial lower limb and technology that is required in its development. The two important phases that need to be studied are the stance phase and the swing phase. The main objective that needs to be studied in the stance phase is the weight balancing mechanism. On the other hand, the objective of the swing phase is the flawless moment of the prosthetic limb. This requires a detailed study of various angles that need to be maintained during the swing phase itself. Another important thing that needs to be considered at a later stage is the adjustment of the specifications of the artificial limb in accordance with the bodyweight and the movement of the person.

Infusing life in a limb

The artificial limbs that we are seeing in the present time are very much similar to robotic limbs. The most important difference between the robotic limb and the human limb is that the level of latency is very low in the human limb and very high in a robotic limb. This often leads to a lack of coordination between the nervous system and the artificial appendage. This latency can be minimized with the help of artificial intelligence and great coordination can be created between the artificial and living part of the limb. In addition to this, the flexibility and durability can be induced in the artificial appendage with the help of microsensors as well as microprocessors that are fitted within it. These not only enable effective cross-communication without any latency but also help in the gradual adaptation of the limb with the body of the amputee.

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Concluding remarks

The only challenge that remains before us is to develop intelligent appendages for amputees powered by machine learning systems at a very low cost. This will pave the way for rapid commercialization of intelligent prosthetic products and help amputees in the long run.

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