How does prosthetics work?
With rapidly emerging technologies like 3D printing, faster processors, better sensors and lightweight materials, the world of prosthetics is going through dynamic leaps regarding how prosthetic limbs are designed, created and function. The core underlying principles are still dependent on the following modules.
The prosthetic attachment as a whole consist of four major sub-parts which are responsible for their specific functionality. The body of the limb, the socket, the attachment mechanism, and the control system.
The body of the artificial limb:
A human’s natural pair of legs weighs almost 30-40% of the body’s weight whereas the hands approximate to 10% of it. Hence, taking the weight of natural legs into consideration, the prosthetic should be light weight as it should not tire the user.
For that very reason, the construction of prosthetic, the kind of material to be used shouldn’t be very hard for the user to adjust and lead a daily routine with it. Therefore it is made of materials like carbon fiber covered with a foam or plastic covering to provide a protective interface and soft padding between the natural part and the artificial part.
Socket of the artificial limb
It plays an important role. Because, precise fitting, apart from adding to the comfort factor, is essential for proper functioning of the prosthesis. Think of it as a hand glove that we use in a game of baseball. If it fits in correctly, we’re able to play more efficiently or else we keep fidgeting. In short, a snug fitting helps in governing the voluntary movements in the residual limb.
The connecting part of the prosthesis is called a socket. It is molded around a plaster cast around the residual limb to get a precise measurement. Laser scanning can also be used to get an accurate virtual 3D diagram of the stump. A silicone liner is first attached to the residual limb which gets fixed to the socket. This arrangement ensures a better suction fit.