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Thread: How limited is prosthetic technology?

  1. #1 How limited is prosthetic technology? 
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    I always wonder why they don't build fully articulate hands for amputees. Is it because it would be too difficult to control, or is it really too hard to build a compact robotic hand that moves like it should?

    If it's the control, I wonder how much they have already.

    I know there are some "myo-electric" devices that can respond to the flexing of remaining muscles. I wonder how far that could be taken. Suppose maybe they took the muscle and broke it into strands. I wonder if a person could learn to flex some strands and not others, within the same muscle.

    If it's because the hand itself is too hard to build, then would it change anything for amputees if that problem were resolved? I mean, they might not be able to control it enough. Do you think pre-programmed movements might help, where they select from a small menu of options?

    I just wonder. I've never really been amputated myself, and I don't personally know anyone who has been. I wonder if any improvements to prosthetics really make any difference, or is the original simply too irreplaceable to really be helped with?

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  3. #2  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Getting electronic control from neurons is surprisingly easy, and we've been able to do it for ages. Also, the brain is very accommodating. I mean the grey matter, not only the mind.

    Adult macaque monkeys learned to operate a robot arm, with their minds. If I remember right, it took them something like 6 hours to gain full mastery of it.


    I guess one problem at the robotic end is limited power. The prosthetic has to lift it's own weight, and then some. You'd need a heavy battery pack to take that with you. So then we're looking at arms only, where the power source is plugged in or stowed in a wheelchair. Small market.

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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    yeah, I think the main drawback at the moment is financial and practical.
    Technologically, it is also a large leap from muscle controled grabbing hands to mind controlled fully dextrous apendages.

    The robotic technology exists. However they require complex computer software and are expensive to develop.
    Likewise, the ability to use the mind to control such things also exists, although it is in its infancy.
    Given time, both will develop and combine into what you describe, i have no doubt. But atm it is too expensive and complicated. Until the manufacturing, operational, maintenance and repair costs fall, and the size, weight and durability of cpus and power supplies shrink to practical levels we will not see this technology widespread.

    Interestingly, we may see genetic growth and the like superseed the cybornetic technology rather quickly anyway. Maybe they will be able to grow you a new hand soon enough (ethics debates aside).
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  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Well a US Navy SEAL lost his leg below the knee in Afganistan during an operation and later returned on combat deployments with his team on a prosthetic leg, so they must be moving ahead in thier progress to make artifical limbs much more durable, also allowing for a greater flexablity. I mean hell jumping out of a C-130 at 32,000 feet landing on rough terrian and being able to profrom close to the same standards in a combat situation sounds like a pretty damn hard test to me and his artifical leg barely infulenced him at all. Now full artifical limb control is proably only about 15 to 20 years away from becoming the norm.

    Why not just get all limbs removed and then you could have super strong replacements. Think awsome modifications. Machinegun arms. JK.

    I want damn 20mm tactical rockets to shoot from my arms.
    Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum- Flavius Vegetius Renatus

    Try to sound smart, but end up looking stupid.
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  6. #5  
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Kind of off topic but what kind of Uni cources are there that would lead to a career to do with researching and designing robotic prothetics?

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