Monday, May 30, 2011

Prosthetic Limbs: Now Better Than Mother Nature’s?

Probably the only significant scientific spin-off of George W. Bush’s malfeasantly run global War on Terror, is current prosthetic limb technology already at par with Mother Nature’s?

By: Ringo Bones

Thanks to better body armor technology, soldiers who got wounded in action while serving George W. Bush’s malfeasantly run global War on Terror of previous years have now a better chance of surviving assault rifle shots and being hit by fragmentation grenades. Unfortunately, this resulted in a growing number of recent war veterans in need of prosthetic limbs – especially advanced myoelectric versions - that is in par with the natural one that they replace in working in everyday situations. Fortunately, prosthetic limb technology is now at a state of development that it had already received rave reviews by their recipients on how good they work in everyday situations. Given the progress of this aspect of medical science, will prosthetic limb technology ever progress to the point that it would have capabilities better than what Mother Nature has already given us? And if it ever did, will most of us opt to have the natural, perfectly-functional limbs that we are born with electively amputated in order to be replaced by better functioning artificial ones?

Dr. Bertolt Meyer – who had the misfortune of being born without a left hand and had an advanced prosthetic version installed – have stated the ethical dilemmas of such issues in a BBC Newsnight interview back in May, 21 2011. The hubbub surrounding recent advances in artificial limb technology really got the undivided attention of the mainstream press and the public-at-large during the airing of a press coverage documenting the plight of an Austrian motorcycle riding accident victim named Milo opting to have his right hand amputated after years of physiotherapy had failed to return it to full-functionality in order to be replaced by an advanced myoelectric version; Though we have to wait for a year to evaluate the success of the procedure.
People opting to have the perfectly-functional limbs that they are born with be replaced by better functioning myoelectric robotic versions reminds me of a science fiction novel I read a few years ago. Titled Antibodies, this David J. Skal work revolves around a cyber-punk themed future where people deliberately mutilate themselves in order to have their perfectly functional limbs and sensory organs – like eyes and ears – be surgically replaced by artificially implanted versions that work far better than the ones they are naturally born with. Will this be the brave new world for the future of artificial limb technology?

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