Much like many complex medical procedures, prosthetic limbs can be incredibly expensive. Purchasing the original unit, keeping up with regular maintenance, adjustments, repair work, and replacing worn, outgrown, or outdated features all bring significant financial burden.
Prosthetic limbs make it possible for individuals to lead normal lives, without many of the restrictions and difficulties they would face without this invaluable technology. Ensuring that they are accessible to anyone who needs them is essential, but how can we make them more affordable?
As with many other areas of science, committed research empowers us to make vital equipment and technology more affordable and more accessible to the people who will truly benefit from them. The more research that can be done, the more we will be able to uncover viable alternatives to some of the most expensive parts of the processes.
There have been plenty of examples of this in other areas of technology. From something as simple as Velcro to newer inventions like smartphones, there are lots of examples of items that would have once been far too expensive, but were finally made cheaper as research sought ways of making them more commonplace.
To tie in with the concept of research, one of the key areas that has helped to make prosthetic limbs viable has been 3D printing. This is an ingenious system that allows for the mass-production of pieces that might otherwise be exceedingly difficult to manufacture.
SEE ALSO: THE BASICS OF PROSTHETIC LIMBS AND HOW THEY WORK
As a result, many charities that help connect people with the most advanced prosthetic limbs use 3D printing as part of their work. Companies like Open Bionics and the Wendy and Tej Kohli Foundation all make use of 3D printing to help create bespoke pieces for those who might not be able to afford them without charitable aid.
Not only does 3D printed offer a technology that allows researchers to overcome significant hindrances, but it also allows many individuals to get their hands on the prosthetics they need.
The driving force behind the unprecedented innovation and progress of the 21st century is the internet, and the ability to disseminate vital information around the glove in an instant. Prosthetics used to be an area that everyone had heard of, but many knew little about it. Through careful education on the internet, many people are able to learn more than they may have ever thought they would be able to learn.
Even if they personally do not know anyone who uses a prosthetic limb, they may be inspired to do some research into the field themselves. They could be the first to discover the next generation of breakthroughs that pushes science forward once more. You never know where development might come from, and it is important that, in the age of the internet, we promote awareness and opportunities wherever we can.
Prosthetic limbs might still be relatively expensive, but there is no reason why we cannot work to bring that cost down. Thanks to careful research and the hard work of companies and individuals within this sector, we may soon be able to make prosthetic limbs affordable for all who may need them.
Why do we do it, how can we stop it, and who else is at it?