The Future is Bionic

Bionic Prosthetics Are In the Works

Jazmyn Hill, Reporter

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Companies have been advancing in the creation of robotic prosthetics to resolve the issues amputees have with traditional prosthetics through neuronic engineering.

“The robotic hand has the ability to react within 400 milliseconds. Equipped with pressure sensors all along the fingers, it can react and stabilize the object before the brain can actually perceive that the object is slipping,” said the representative for Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).

Invented by Easton LaChappelle, his inspiration was a girl named MoMo, whom had her right arm amputated at a young age. LaChappelle said he worked to created an arm with sensory action, faster reaction time, grip strength manipulation and individual finger control. This introduced a technology that paved the way for other companies resolve the problems amputees have with traditional prosthetics.

“[My aunt] had traditional prosthetics and decided not to use them. She decided to use a wheelchair instead,” special education teacher Lynn Rector said. “[She was overweight] and the suction cup that went around her knee was very painful-her body never really adapted to it,”

This is the case with many amputees who use a traditional prosthetic. Many also have continuous problems with discomfort and loosening of the prosthetic’s group as time goes on.

“To me the pros would be cheaper or [just to] have the limb,” senior Connor Fogarty said. “Sometimes it might not work for them or [be] too expensive for the first time.”

There are a few positives to the traditional prosthetics according to Fogarty, who is a member of Timberland High School’s Robotics Club. The club focuses on engineering and has earned national ranking, as well as a sponsorship from NASA.

“Traditionals, I feel, are mostly for looks,” Rector said.

In addition, traditional prosthetics only offer a visual replacement, rather than a grip or other senses that contribute to a full restoration of a limb.

“Traditional Prosthetics usually [require] manual control,” senior Jack Henman said. “So you would have a control in your other hand that would correspond directly to motion the prosthetic robotic [would] control. [For robotic prosthetics], prosthetic skin be programmed electrical impulses from your brain by a different muscle that you wouldn’t normally use in the operation of that limit so you can perform normally,“

Henman, also a member of the Robotics team, said he more widely available bionic arms would be a useful addition to modern healthcare technology.

The bionic prosthetic is not yet available for purchase, neuro engineers at companies like Hero Arm and Deka are using LaChappelle’s plan to better the future of prosthetics.