A walk through Prosthetic Device Industry

Prosthetic is all about creating limbs for limbless. Here’s a summary of the game-changing innovations in the field of prosthetics.

An artificial limb is also called a prosthetics device, which is used as a mechanical replacement for a missing limb. Artificial limbs are light in weight and high in strength, custom made-up devices that are used for amputees with lost limbs caused by diseases or injuries. The objects used in artificial limbs comprise plastic-coated fibers and plastics, willow wood, carbon-fiber composites, and different clanging alloys. Arm prosthesis, leg prosthesis, and cosmetic prosthesis are some types of prosthetics. According to a report published, the global artificial limbs market was valued at approximately USD 1,970 million in 2018 and is expected to generate around USD 2,758 million by 2024, at a CAGR of around 5.8 per cent between 2019 and 2024.

Innovations in Prosthetic Industry
The machinery segment of the artificial ampute market includes electrically power-driven, cable operated, and cosmetic prosthetics. The electrically powered segment held the largest market share in 2018 and is expected to show the highest CAGR over the forecast time period. This can be attributed to the high adoption rate and the customisations available according to patients’ needs along with the ease and flexibility for stress-free movements.

“Today, more than 2 million people use some type of prosthetic limb due to the amputation of an arm or leg. When considering other types of prosthetics, including joints or teeth, the number skyrockets to more than 10 million people. Throughout the last 2 decades, prosthetic technology has advanced considerably to include lightweight running legs and more responsive legs and feet to allow for more effective navigation. Scientists are continuing to develop new and better limbs to ensure that those who lose a limb can have the most natural and functional prosthetic possible,” shared Rajendra Kumar, Regional Manager – North & Nodel Head, UEP Endolite India.

“By end-user, the market is segmented into prosthetic clinics, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Clinics and hospitals are estimated to dominate the global artificial limbs market in the future,” Kumar said.

Dr Andreas Goppelt, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Ottobock Healthcare said, “Over the last few years, technology such as motorised hand prosthetics controlled by sensors and 8-bit microprocessors has made it possible for those who have lost one or both hands to have a more functional prosthetic that very nearly imitates the abilities of a natural hand.”

That technology is now extending into other prosthetic limbs, including the arm, leg, and foot—and has nearly advanced to the point where it can be fully controlled by the patient’s thoughts and nerves, just like a natural hand.

“In fact, within a few years, it’s very possible that some prosthetic limbs could be virtually indistinguishable from actual natural limbs,” Andreas shared.

He further shares, There are three major trends that are currently dominating the prosthetic limb industry which are as follows:

3D Printing
While 3D Printing isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of natural-looking and feeling prosthetics, it does offer a major advantage for patients: reduced cost. For a typical cosmetic-only prosthetic arm prices can approach $5,000. For a functional arm, that cost jumps to around $10,000—and up to $100,000 for an advanced arm with a hand that can be controlled by muscle movements. Considering that most prosthetic limbs need to be replaced every few years, the costs can add up for patients.

3D Printing, though, has the potential to make those costs significantly lower. an fact, a 3D-printed child’s prosthetic may cost as little as $50, making it an affordable option. These inexpensive limbs have limited functionality, but there are more functional designs in the works that will not cost that much more. One Japanese company has even developed a fully bionic arm using 3D printing that costs just under $5,000.

More Sensitive Limbs
One thing that every amputee can attest to is the feeling of losing something. And while prosthetics can substitute the appearance and function of a missing limb, they are tools—not a part of the body. Without the sensitivity that an actual limb has, or the ability to be controlled by intention, patients can only tell what they are holding in their hand, stepping on, or touching by looking at it.

Scientists, however, have found a way to mimic the sensations of holding something in the hand. By wiring pressure sensors into the fingers of the artificial hand to the nerves in the upper arm, amputees are able to actually feel the shape and texture of objects. This both helps the patient feel less of a sense of loss and have more control over their motions.

Brain-Controlled Prosthetics
Most amputees dream of being able to control their limbs the way that others do, without even really thinking about it. In light of recent work by scientists at the Prosthetics and Orthotics Laboratory at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and research scientists at the Center for Bionic Medicine, that may be possible. Scientists at the Institute have captured information about how brain signals travel down nerves and control limb movement, and used those signals to optimise bionic prosthetic limbs. Known as myoelectric control systems, these prosthetics can move prosthetic arms and legs without conscious thought.

While these advances allow for better, more natural movement for patients requiring prosthetics and help them move and function more effectively and more safely, there are drawbacks. According to Dr Andreas, “With the exception of basic 3D-printed models, the cost of these advanced limbs can be prohibitive to the average patient, even those with health insurance coverage. Many of these technologies are still in development, and given the complexity of correctly connecting sensors to nerves, it could be several years before the most advanced prosthetics reach the market.”

Range of products
The product range in Endolite of lower extremity prosthetic product cover all levels of amputation of the lower limbs and includes microprocessor controlled prosthetics knee joints like Orion and Smart IP and variety of dynamic yet stable foot pieces such as Echelon, Elite Blade, Espirit, Elite2, Navigator and Dynamic Response foot etc. to provide great degree of freedom to the user. Endolite also has a wide range of Hands.

Bionic Hand: A bionic hand is an advanced myoelectric hand with each finger moves separately to grasp the object in a natural pattern. It works on the principle of a Myo hand and signal from the surface of the residual limb using electrodes. It has several grip patterns to opt from for better functional need and outcome.

The bionic hand is an superficially powered prosthesis controlled by myoelectric signals, meaning it uses muscle signals in the patient’s residual limb to operate terminal hand, electrodes are placed on the user’s bare skin above two pre-selected muscle site. When a user contracts these muscles, the electrodes pick up the muscular single in the electrical pattern and send these signals to a microprocessor which instructs the hand to open and close. With this technology, the user will be able to hold intricately shaped objects with ease. The hand is programmed for individual needs and there are all together 18 grip pattern to chose from. The grip pattern can be changed suing a mobile app.

Myo-Electrical: This is one of the most advanced systems available. It is controlled by muscle stimulation which is converted to electrical pulses which operate a motor that proves mechanical energy for operation i.e. opening and closing of Prosthetic Hand. It is powered by batteries. It has Myo-Electric Hand with PVC or a silicone glove over it with two electrodes with Rechargeable Li-ion batteries with a mechanical elbow (for Trans Humeral Amputees). The prosthesis has an inner flexible and outer hard socket with a harness for suspension.

Mechanical: It has a mechanical hand operated with body power with the help of cable attachments. It has mechanical hand with PVC or a silicone glove over it with mechanical elbow (for trans humeral amputees) with inner flexible and outer hard Socket with harness for suspension.

Cosmetic: It is purely for cosmetic proposes and does not have any function. It has Cosmetic Hand with PVC or a silicone glove over it with manual free motion or mechanical elbow (for trans humeral amputees) with inner flexible and outer hard socket with harness for suspension.

Conclusion
Still, for those who have lost—or were born without—limbs, these advances represent hope that they will soon be able to function as close to normally as possible, even without actually thinking about it.