While losing a limb is difficult at any age, it is often more disruptive for a younger amputee that relies on their physical ability for work. Osseointegrated artificial limbs are still in the testing stages, but these bone-anchored devices are showing a lot of promise. Find out how these upcoming prosthetic advancements could greatly help younger amputees return to the careers and leisure activities.
Prostheses tend to rely on a socket and suspender system, also known as a cup or suction attachment. No matter how soft and well-molded the cup used for connecting the artificial limb to the arm or leg, the constant contact between it and the skin results in painful skin and soft tissue irritation. Many younger amputees struggle to practice enough with their artificial limb to feel natural using it because of all the pain, bruising, and chafing caused by a poor-fitting cup. The development of ongoing skin infections and ulcers can limit the patient's options permanently.
The idea of spending the next few decades facing that kind of pain and irritation is very disheartening. A bone-embedded implant eliminates the contact between the implant and the skin, and mechanical friction is eliminated as long as the skin around the implant area is properly prepared before the surgery.
Preparing for school or work already takes long enough, but adding the attachment and adjustment of a prosthetic stretches that routine out even further. With snap-on technology to connect a strong artificial limb to an equally strong embedded anchor shaft, the time-strapped young amputee can quickly get the limb attached and get on with the next hurdle of the day. There's no fit to fiddle with or harness straps to tighten and loosen as needed throughout the day, either, and it's easier to remove the prosthetic if necessary during the daily routine without the concern of struggling to get it back on again in a hurry.
Active amputees in their 20s and 30s are often disappointed that hiking, biking, and rock climbing becomes more difficult even after they regain their strength and balance with an artificial limb. This is due to the loss of proprioception, or your ability to feel the feedback generated by your foot or hand contacting a surface. The loss of this sense makes it harder to feel where you're placing your limb, reducing reaction time during challenging sports and other physical activities. The connection from the artificial limb to the bone, with all its surrounding nerve endings, restores at least some of the original proprioception of the body part.
Reduced Joint Pain
Cup prostheses also cause pain aside from the pressure put on the amputation site. Most lower limb amputees struggle with hip pain along with inflammation in the knee if they're using a below-the-knee device. Studies conducted over the last 10 years about early osseointegration tests show that this attachment method helps younger patients adapt to life with a leg prosthesis by
- reducing pain and soreness in the hip through providing a better weight balance and more natural gait
- increasing hip flexibility and range of motion, making it possible to enjoy a wider range of physical activities
- supporting long-term joint health by reducing unnecessary wear and tear, which is essential when you're going to spend 50 or more years wearing an artificial limb.
Improved Self Confidence
Finally, don't forget about the psychological impact of losing a limb at a young age. Choosing a prosthesis that is more reliable and less likely to slip at a crucial time can greatly increase the user's comfort in using a medical device on a daily basis. Feeling confident in the use of an osseointegrated artificial limb results in less anxiety and depression, especially if the user can keep pursuing their work or hobby goals.
Go to websites like this one to learn more about artificial limbs.