The Evolution of Bionic Hands: Exploring How This Advancement Will Help the Medical Industry

By Esteban Guerra, AGE 12

Karin, 50, of Sweden photographed with her new bionic arm. Photo: SWNS

Modern technology has recently developed a new solution to the bionic prosthetic to help those who have been affected by limb loss. The first bionic hand was created in Sweden. Karin, the Swedish woman received the first bionic arm, she had lost her arm in a farm accident two decades ago. 

The technology that Karin’s arm is composed of is called bionic prosthesis. Bionic prosthetics are artificial limbs designed to connect one’s nervous system to enhance functionality for any limb. This advancing technology is powered by myoelectric prosthetics, which activate artificial limbs electronically and are directly connected to the nervous system or muscles mainly used for your upper limbs. Bionic limbs are stronger with this new machinery, causing prosthetics to last for longer periods of time.

Earlier prosthetics were made of wood, leather and metal bits, which limited the movements of prosthetic limbs. Current prosthetics are created with multiple different materials, such as metal, rubber, gears, wires, and a way to connect to neurological pathways. Current prosthetics still need improvement on targeted muscle reinnervation, a process that allows people to have degrees of freedom with some limitations. 

Scientists are now trying to use artificial intelligence to make prosthetics without needing to connect to any body systems. Adaptive learning AI improves a prosthetic limb by being able to control itself using cameras to identify the action you want it to do. This ability to connect AI and prosthetics could allow bionic arms to continue their original function while disconnected from the human system, which changes the way prosthetics are made for everyone.

FDA launched a medical device innovation initiative that included pathway for new, breakthrough medical devices. The agency also announced the first project that will pilot the innovation program. It is a brain-controlled, prosthetic arm funded by the DARPA. Photo courtesy of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)

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