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How Advanced are Prosthetic Arms?

The technology of prosthetic devices is constantly improving. The innovation in prosthetic hand design has seen experimental models frequently make the news over the past decade or so. The question 'how advanced are prosthetic arms' is therefore a difficult one to answer reliably, as the cutting edge in prosthetics is still making consistent progress.

The forefront of prosthetic research is centred around the method of control. What many companies pursue as the holy grail of prosthetic design is the perfect replication of a biological arm. In practice, this means their research is focused on intuitive control, the feeling of movement and the sense of touch.

One of the main problems that users of modern prosthetics find is that, while the arm is a useful tool, using it is a conscious effort. When using biological arms during everyday tasks we can take our eyes off them, relying on senses like touch to understand grip strength and so on. This is the area bionics are attempting to improve upon.


Using surgery to implant sensors and feedback systems into the patient's residual limb and nervous system, bionic prosthetics are able to use the same electrical signals a person would use to move their arm, and can feed back information to the brain about the arm's environment in the same way. This makes the everyday life of someone using the prosthetic much more intuitive, and therefore much easier, particularly if their limb difference requires a prosthetic with an elbow (a whole other joint they would no longer need to directly control).


While someone can practise with existing prosthetic options to the point of near-instinctive movement, they are simply no match for the control on offer from bionic designs. However, many of these products are still in the research and development phase, so their final implementation may be a bit different.


A bionic device is an exciting prospect, but given how new the technology is, the price of these prosthetics is sky high. In fairness they are feats of modern engineering, made with a socket that fits each individual user's residual limb. If you're in the US, these options certainly aren't covered by insurance, making this technology inaccessible to many people.

How advanced are prosthetics arms on the market right now?

There have been several improvements to prosthetic design outside of bionic technology. These have mostly been focused on the materials used to manufacture prosthetics, making the final product much more lightweight and therefore easy to wear while retaining durability and function.


3D printing has also been a huge step forward in prosthetic design. This has finally allowed prosthetics to be made to fit the user's body at an affordable price, and much faster than was possible before. ExpHand uses 3D printing technology as the lightweight materials make the prosthetics much more wearable for children, while still being durable enough to go through their everyday life with.

The affordability of these new materials has also been essential for making prosthetics accessible to more people who need them. In the UK, the NHS has recently been able to offer more advanced prosthetic arms to patients other than veterans, while previously it only offered cosmetic (models with no function made for aesthetics only) and basic prosthetics. This is just one result of rapid innovation in this part of the prosthetics industry.

Increasingly there is a focus on prosthetics beyond medical utility. Use of a prosthetic arm can empower and comfort amputees and others with limb difference as they navigate their everyday life. This is part of why modern prosthetics often come with many options for customization and decoration, so that the wearer can express their personality. Some famous people like Angel Giuffria use LED lights to really show their prosthetics off!


For more information about ExpHand, you can read all about us here. If you're interested in the ExpHand for your child, please get in touch with us here.

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