Bionic arms can be defined as artificial body appendages that make use of technological inputs to complete the full-fledged functioning of a particular limb. Bionic arms make use of various types of sensors as well as electrical signals to set an appendage into motion. That said, the technology behind conceiving the bionic arm is sophisticated, costly as well as time-consuming in nature. Over a period of time, we have moved from mechanical appendages to the state of art bionic appendages that are lightweight and function much like a biological arm.
In this article, we aim to understand the various types of bionic prosthetics including their functioning as well as the emerging technologies in this domain.
Bionic prosthetics can be classified into various categories. The classification is usually done on the basis of the functioning of bionic prosthetics. The first category is called non-functional prosthetics. This category includes types of artificial Limbs that are used for or cosmetic purposes. For instance, the skin of a person gets badly damaged and is irreparable. In this case, cosmetic prosthetics are used to give a natural shape to a particular limb that has been affected.
The second category is called mechanical prosthetics. Such kinds of artificial appendages are powered by mechanical pulleys and are not very costly as compared to other types of bionic prosthetics.
The third category is called myoelectric prosthetics. Such kinds of appendages are equipped with custom sockets as well as sensors that are capable of detecting electrical signals and converting them into synchronous movements.
The fourth category is called the osseointegrated prosthesis. This is one of the most advanced categories that is emerging in the domain of prosthesis. Surgical installations of very thin wires are supplanted on the bone in order to regenerate movement and make the appendage function in a normal manner.
The bionic arms rely on making effective communication between the artificial appendages and the mind with the help of sensors. These sensors help in the detection of impulses so that such signals can be translated into movement. This bionic appendage also helps in improving the movement as well as the connection with other body parts in a synchronized manner. Bionic parts make use of a compression cup that is in intimate contact with the skin. This intimate contact is pivotal in detecting impulses without any time lapse and communicating this to the corresponding sensors. The sensors trigger the necessary movement and ensure the grip on a particular object much like a natural hand.
The performance of the bionic arms relies on various kinds of sensors that are fitted with small electrodes. These electrodes are responsible for recording muscle activity in a timely manner. We call this process electromyography.
Another important improvement that has been brought in bionic arms is their ease of removal and attachment in a hassle-free manner. Although a lot of improvements have been brought in prosthetic technology, there is often a need in certain cases to undertake rehabilitation for strengthening muscles. It needs to be noted at this point in time that the entire process of prosthetics is well monitored during the trial period and appropriate modifications are made whenever necessary.
Bionic arms are provided with various types of operation modes that can adjust to the object and environment we want to interact with. We can also change the functioning of the bionic arm and adjust it according to our needs as and when required. The bionic arm technology is well developed and is provided with a virtual support interface that provides holistic knowledge about the functioning and various features of the device.
The way ahead
Various types of technologies are emerging and bionic arms are being modified every now and then. The aim is to make the bionic arm highly advanced in nature yet very easy to use. The research in this area is mainly focused on osseointegrated prostheses so that intimate connections are made directly with the bone and the whole process of the functioning of prosthetic arms is made as natural as possible. This is possible when a full-fledged integration is achieved between the skeleton, the nervous system and the installed bionic part.