While robotic, mind-controlled prosthesis seem to be the future, they are still decades away from being readily available to amputees. Most patients in need of prosthesis are still reliant on traditional “peg leg” pieces with a socket that attaches to the patient’s stump. These prosthesis, while helpful, are not ideal; it is difficult for patients to get a proper sensation of the prosthetic limb, and the socket causes chafing against the stump.
To help solve many of the difficulties faced by patients using a traditional prosthesis, researchers at University College London have developed a newer, more innovative design known as ITAP (Intraosseous Transcutaneous Amputation Prosthesis), which draws inspiration from deer antlers. Deer antlers are porous beneath the surface, which allows the soft tissue to invade the bone and seals off the interface between skin and bone, eliminating the chance of bacteria entering the body and causing infection. The ITAP has a similar, porous design that allows the prosthetic to be “plugged into” the patient’s bone. The 20 patients chosen for the ITAP trial had the prosthesis implanted to directly interface with their skeleton. In addition to eliminating chafing and infections, the ITAP allowed wearers to feel the prosthetic leg in a way that they would not be able to using a traditional socket prosthesis.
As the initial clinical trial has been a success, the researchers from University College London are hoping to make the technology available in US and UK specialty clinics soon.
(Source: Popular Science)