Monday, February 6, 2023

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Who Should Look For a Myoelectric Enhancement?

The human body is a fine-tuned organism. Adapted to utilize most of its anatomy, and physiology. The loss of a limb thus throws the whole system into chaos. After a limb is lost, all the functions involved with it are lost as well. And due to the interconnected nature of the human anatomy, some overlapping functions are also lost. This sudden loss of function leaves a deep dent in the mind. Isolation and dependency on others for day-to-day tasks shatters the confidence of an amputee. As a result, an amputee loses all motivation to carry on with the struggles of life.

Modern-day myoelectric bionic prostheses are perhaps the most important and specific instrument available for post-amputation rehabilitation. Until the emergence of 3D printed limbs they are the best option we have. It is impossible to replace an original limb in terms of functionality and feel. But modern prostheses can give back a reasonable amount of abilities to kick restart the rhythm of life. But these wonderful instruments of rehabilitation, can not be implemented for every amputee out there. There are physical and psychological preconditions, demanding elaborate discussion. The purpose of this article is to discuss the obstacles in detail and help in understanding the ideal circumstances for the implementation of a myoelectric prosthesis.

Working mechanism

A myoelectric prosthesis is controlled by an onboard microcomputer. The computer translates the signals received from the non-invasive surface EMG sensors into gestures and actions. The MEG signals in the case of surface EMG are generated by the residual muscles left after an amputation. The preservation of functions is also essential when it comes to the generation of signals. Bionic reconstruction is performed in many cases to pave a smoother path for the implementation of a bionic prosthesis.

Bionic reconstruction involves long and arduous surgical interventions sometimes repeatedly. Bones are remodelled, redundant anatomy is removed for making more space. Additionally, reinnervation is encouraged medically for the essential but affected muscles.

After the implementation and conditioning, a myoelectric prosthesis listens to the wielder’s will. But the working mechanism reveals the major drawbacks of the instrument.

Physical requirements

The residual muscles are essential for the generation of EMG signals, thus must be present in a functional state. But amputations are desperate measures, done in order to save lives from certain endings. But the candid nature of the procedures often fails to retain the necessary muscles needed for surface EMG to work. Additionally, an injury affecting the relevant dermatomes can also render an amputee ineligible for wielding a myoelectric prosthesis.

The presence of any progressive neurodegenerative disease can also pose an obstacle. In the cases of diseases like ALS frequent recalibration is required for ensuring a smooth performance.

Among other physical requirements, there should be enough space for the installation of a bionic prosthesis. And sometimes by surgical means, surgeons tend to achieve the desired length.

Psychological requirements

The long and difficult journey of wielding a prosthesis and rehabilitating oneself from post-amputation complications is not everyone’s cup of tea. Only the one motivated enough to go through the ordeal, succeed in wielding a bionic prosthesis. This kind of motivation can only come with the need and necessity to get back to life and socialize.

The sudden loss of a limb is not recognized immediately by the brain, as the necessary anatomical modifications remain active even after a long time from the amputation. As a result, an amputee experiences pseudo sensations of the lost limb. These frustrating sensations convert into severe pain with time. Better known among neuroscientists as phantom limb pains.

A bionic myoelectric prosthesis alleviates the pain by utilizing the existing anatomical modifications and by channelling these sensations towards a functional direction. After this phase is passed it is safe to consider the causing modifications behind phantom limb pain is non-existent. Thus implementation of a bionic prosthesis might not go as planned.

Awareness

With time and progress, myoelectric prosthesis became mainstream. The prices were lower and the value proposition was better than ever. Even in our country, we are witnessing prosthesis manufacturers emerging with cheap and wonderful products. The open bionic arm price is also going down with time. The materials are more available than before with an abundance of high-quality electronics. But unfortunately, many in our country are xlargely unaware of the existence of bionic myoelectric prostheses. Even after being able to afford and go through the training, many amputees remain deprived of the blessings of a myoelectric prosthesis. We must step up and change the scenario for the better and bring the rhythm of progress and co-operation back to the lives of amputees.

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