Bionic prosthesis: history of creation, principle of operation
Starting from the Middle Ages until today, mankind has been trying to create prostheses that would be as similar to a lost limb as possible not only in appearance, but also in functionality. To ease the life of the sick, who in the old days were not given any chance of realization in society and improving their well-being, allows modern medicine and science. The rapid development of technological progress allows you to create amazing things that make the lives of patients more free, positive and rich.
Science of the future
Currently, a new discipline has emerged, combining technology and biology. Bionics is a science that studies the nervous system, its cells, and the study of receptors. The purpose of this work is to create innovative devices.
Bionics is an applied discipline, and today its development occurs at a fairly rapid pace.After all, mankind has always sought to possess such abilities that were not given to him by nature. Of course, a living body can do a lot. However, there are things that a person simply can not do. This, for example, the inability to talk with people who are out of earshot, as well as the ability to fly. But man has always sought to compensate for his imperfections. For this, he used a variety of external devices. For example, telephone and aircraft were invented. But as for the medical field, it is more and more difficult. At the same time, each of us understands that doctors, in cases when something happens to the patient's body, carry out his “repair”, using the latest achievements in this area.
Bionics is a science that has been able to put together these two, at first glance, rather simple concepts. In addition, it allows us to look a bit into the future. After all, there, quite possibly, doctors will begin to actively improve their patients, “changing” them “unsuitable”, “worn out” organs and systems. In addition, it is highly probable that bionics will allow us to be made such that nature could not create, that is, stronger and faster. This is the essence of this science.
One of the main directions of bionics deals with the manufacture of modern prostheses and implants. Such technological devices are placed where previously there was a lost limb.
The name of the bionic prosthesis received from the word "bionics". To create their products, in addition to technology and biology, this discipline uses the achievements of electronics and cybernetics, physics and chemistry, navigation, etc.
A bionic prosthesis or implant established to a person begins to interact with the cells of the nervous system. And, despite the fact that such devices are made of artificial materials, they allow the patient to control their movements. This is made possible by the method of muscle reinnervation. Its basic principle lies in the fact that the nerves that were once responsible for an already amputated leg or arm are connected to the remaining muscle tissues on the limb. They transmit signals to prosthetic electronic sensors.
After a person has a limb removed, there are nerves in his body responsible for motor activity. Doctors with the help of complex surgical operations connect them with zones of the largest muscles. For example, in the case of an amputated arm, from the chest.
How do bionic prostheses work? When a person has a desire to move his fingers, his brain sends a signal to the pectoral muscle. Here electrodes are included in the work. They receive this signal and transmit a pulse through the wires to the processor inside the bionic limb. This allows the prosthesis to make the intended movement.
Interestingly, the artificial limb can even feel heat, pressure, and touch. After all, doctors produce the connection of a living sensory nerve with a skin area located on the chest. This method was called the target sensory reinnervation. Sensors located on an artificial limb, send a signal to the area of the skin. Further, this impulse is transmitted to the cerebral cortex, and a person, for example, is able to sense the heat and pull up his arm.
Today we can say that bionic limb prostheses are only being introduced into life. And there is still the problem of quality control of such devices.
The creation of such a prosthesis took scientists a lot of time. Of course, the task before the researchers was not easy.How to create so smart prosthesis that he could recreate all the movements of his master, even the most delicate? After all, nature has provided the tips of the fingers of human hands with the most sensitive nerve endings, which ensure accuracy in the performance of various tasks.
Of course, to date, scientists have not yet managed to repeat the natural possibilities of the human hand one hundred percent. However, there are several quite interesting attempts that allowed the artificial limb to be brought closer to the natural one as precisely as possible.
What are bionic prostheses? The history of the creation of these devices still has very little time. This becomes the main reason that their use at the moment is not so massive. The first bionic prostheses were developed by scientists working at the Chicago Institute of Rehabilitation. They managed to create a device that allowed the patient to control his hand and even recognize a number of sensations. The first bionic hand was raised by Claudia Mitchell. This woman, who in the past served in the US Navy, had an accident in 2005.In order to save the patient's life, the surgeons had to perform an operation to amputate her left arm. And on the shoulder. An artificial hand was attached to the nerves that remained unchanged.
Today, such a bionic prosthesis is produced by different manufacturers. Consider some of them.
One of the companies producing bionic hands is Touch Bionics. Initially, she produced her products for war veterans. Such a prosthetic arm can not only take, but also hold objects. At the same time her fingers are able to move separately and reproduce several standard recorded movements. Interestingly, such a bionic prosthesis can compress objects with different strengths.
What is the basis of this device? This is a microelectric device capable of reading the bioelectric potential of the surviving part of the hand. Next is the transfer of information to the software device. It ensures the continued functioning of the bionic limb. The computer system, which is equipped with an artificial hand, contains a certain list of standard grippers and movements.
This bionic arm is similar to that described above. With its help, a person is able to perform fourteen different movements and grabs, reproducing various actions.
This myo-electric prosthesis is currently being finalized, but it may soon become a full-fledged replacement for a lost arm.
Bioruka, established at Chalmers Technical University
Scientists from this institution have created a unique prosthesis. Partially, it can work from myoelectrics, and partly due to impulses transmitted by the nervous system of the disabled person. Electrodes are implanted into a person’s arm, which read signals transmitted by the brain. Further, these impulses come to a computer device, which will redistribute them into motor-controlled ones. As a result, the prosthetic arm is capable of reproducing movements with the fingers both simultaneously and individually.
To date, the creators of this model are working on its improvement. They set themselves the task of forming such a prosthesis that would be controlled exclusively by nerve impulses transmitted by the brain.
Andrew Schwartz device
The manufacture of prostheses, made according to the developments of this neurobiologist, allowed to change the life of paralyzed people. The first patient who underwent surgery to install this bioruki was a woman who suffered from a severe neurodegenerative disease. It was this ailment that led the patient to a loss of motor functions throughout the body. Special electrodes were implanted into the woman's brain, with the help of which the biorex was controlled.
In the prototype of the new upper limb prosthesis, tactile signals are transmitted using sensors embedded in the tips of an artificial palm, wrist, and fingers. This innovation allows the patient to feel not only the location of the prosthesis itself. He feels and objects squeezed by bioruk.
Of course, today we can say that these feelings can not be compared with the natural, given by us nature. In addition, the material from which the implant is made should not be in a living organism for more than a month. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the first steps to create a “smart” prosthesis have already been made.
At first glance, the creation of an artificial lower limb of a new generation seems to be an easier task compared to that which scientists faced in creating the “smart” hand.
However, to date, researchers have not been able to significantly get closer to its solution. The manufacture of prostheses that can replace the lower limbs, of course, has been going on for several years. Moreover, the researchers have already presented a number of the most successful models.
Scientists at Vanderbilt University are working hard to create engines for the knee and foot. The first patient who experienced the capabilities of this artificial limb is the twenty-three year old guy Crain Hutto. He lost his leg in a fight with a shark. Analyzing the video about the gait of a young man, it is safe to conclude that Kerin moves well on different surfaces. He limps only slightly and independently can travel a distance of up to 14 km. Such a prosthesis is able to respond to even the smallest changes during a person’s movement.
Another successful development experienced by scientists from Vanderbilt University, as well as researchers from the Rehabilitation Center at the University of Chicago, was an artificial leg, installed by Zack Wouter. Using the technical capabilities of this prosthesis, this patient independently climbed to the 103rd floor of a skyscraper.
The principle of operation of this model lies in the fact that the prosthesis is controlled by signals sent by the brain. In this case, the device is connected to the nerve endings that are in the remaining part of the limb.
In addition to the above developments, there are other equally worthy models of artificial lower limbs. One of them is Tibion. The construction of this prosthesis, the researchers as close as possible to those parameters that has the skeleton of a natural leg. Such a development is intended for elderly patients who have immobilized lower limbs, for example, after a stroke.
Requirements for bioprostheses
In order for artificial limbs to be sufficiently effective in their functionality, they must meet the following requirements:
- have a base of lightweight and durable material (usually titanium alloys), which is especially important when lower limb prosthetics;
- have reliable electronics that will allow to transfer impulses from the muscles of the remaining area with accuracy;
- have an autonomous power supply, which will allow the micromotor and processor to work for a long time;
- have durable parts that mimic the knee or elbow joint;
- to be as close as possible in its anatomical similarity with an amputated limb.
Installation of artificial limbs in Russia
Where in our country can be put bionic prosthesis? Russia is a country where such devices are not manufactured. However, those who are in trouble and become disabled will be helped at the Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Center, which is located in Moscow. Over the past ten years, the specialists of this institution have been working on lower limb prosthetics. In the Center, modern modular prostheses are manufactured using high-tech developments of the German company Otto Bock and the Icelandic company Ossur.These artificial limbs include modern bioprostheses, which are equipped with a microprocessor.
They are able to provide the most natural gait. These prostheses use the following modules:
1. Rheo Knee. This is a self-learning knee module. He is so “intelligent” that he constantly and continuously adapts to the patient, as well as to his environment. This module uses the most advanced technologies in the form of load sensors, which take measurements at a frequency of 1000 times within a second.
2. Proprio Foot. This is the first in the world of the foot with artificial intelligence. It is given to patients who have undergone surgery to remove the leg. The module even automatically bends the ankle. This means that in its functionality it is close to a healthy foot.
3. Symbionic Leg. This is a fully bionic leg. For its operation, the combined power supply is used, as well as the management of a foot and an adaptive joint of the knee from a single microprocessor.
A bionic prosthetic leg is very effective for people with disabilities. The price for it in the RTC together with the installation is in the range from 1 to 3 million rubles.
Of course, bionic prostheses are inaccessible to ordinary people.However, this is easily explained by their sophisticated device and great functionality. For example, a bionic prosthetic leg, the price of which, of course, is very high, allows not only to walk, climb and descend the stairs normally, but also to go in for sports without indulging in active life.
What other organs can be replaced by electronics?
Under the bionic prosthesis understand cochlear implants, which are implanted in the organs of hearing. These are special devices representing the system in which the microphone, sound processor, and also the transmitter of a sound signal are located. The last of these parts is fixed either on the skin or under the hair. The receiver, which is an integral element of the prosthesis, is implanted into the patient's subcutaneous tissue, and the electrodes are inserted into the auditory cochlea.
Since 1950, scientists conduct experiments whose purpose is to create an artificial heart. The first operation to implant such a prosthesis was carried out in 1982.
The most amazing invention is considered to be an artificial eye. This is a complex device that can partially replace the organ of vision.It begins to work after installing the antenna in the eyeball. The image falls on special glasses, which are equipped with a camera and are connected to a computer that processes the image.