New Prostheses Make Life Easier For Amputees

Not many years ago, people with amputated limbs might have been unable to perform small tasks, such as opening jars or walking uphill, that others take for granted. Now, new technology is giving people with amputations more freedom than ever before.

High-tech prostheses allow amputees to run marathons, compete in triathlons and live productive lives. These new prostheses are changing the lives of people who have lost limbs in car crashes and work accidents or through other serious injuries and diseases.

Nerve Impulses Controlling Arms

New prosthetic arms have advanced far beyond original options. Myoelectric arms can allow a person to bend and straighten an elbow or open and close fingers on a prosthetic arm using simply their mind. The arm picks up nerve impulses, which are amplified into a motor that allows movement. One new myoelectric hand has five digits that are individually powered and a wrist and thumb that rotate. The prosthesis allows people to perform many complex grips and tasks.

As technology increases, these prostheses are becoming easier to manage. In fact, there's an app that enables prostheses adjustment. A company has developed an app that allows users of its prosthetic limb to adjust the grip using an iPhone or iPad and a stylus. Previously, users of myoelectric arms might have needed to travel to a specialist's office in another state for an adjustment.

Sensing Shifts in Movement

Prostheses for lower limbs have undergone similar advancements. Older prosthetic legs were basically hinged springs that did not sense slight shifts in movement. Now, more than 700 people in the U.S. have a bionic ankle. It has a motor, computer chips, and gyroscopes, all of which help it to act more like a flesh-and-blood ankle.

The new ankle makes some of the most difficult tasks easier for people with amputations, including climbing up and down hills. The ankle can sense when a person is walking up or down and adjusts itself. As with new myoelectric arms, the new prosthetic ankle can be fine-tuned with a simple app.

Taking Advantage of Advanced Prostheses

Even without bionic ankles, prosthetic legs have advanced so far that some people with partial amputations or whose limbs were saved have requested further amputations so that they can benefit from new prosthetics. One man, a physician who begged doctors to save his foot after he was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle, later asked for his foot to be amputated. In a New York Times article, the doctor said he had too much pain in his damaged foot and he realized he would be better off with a new prosthetic leg.

His left leg is now amputated just below the knee, and he has a carbon fiber foot that allows the marathon runner and outdoors enthusiast to be as active as before.

How an Attorney can Help

These advances in prosthetic limbs can boost the quality of life for an amputee, but the devices can be costly. For example, a myoelectric arm could cost $110,000, according to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

If you have suffered a life-changing injury that resulted in an amputation, an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney who focuses on representing people who have sustained catastrophic injuries can help you determine how to move forward with your case. You may be able to recovery compensation to cover the costs of prosthetic limbs, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other various damages.