It’s a Wonderful Galaxy: New Breakthroughs for Bionic Limbs

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Published on: November 10, 2012

 

There was a great deal of publicity surrounding this year’s Paralympic Galaxy Games. But the increased interest wasn’t due to the sports. New advanced technology has made the games possible. And that same technology is improving the everyday lives of amputees.

For years even the most modern replacement limbs were more cosmetic than practical. And the majority of limbs that were affordable and durable were also stiff and fake. But these uncomfortable restrictions didn’t slow people down. Over the past few decades people with amputated limbs begin actively trying to increase their visibility and live richer lives. Games like Murderspheres – a no-holds barred game of CircleBall – gave new purpose to those who experienced amputations due to war or injury.

As science progressed and the need for more sophisticated limbs increased, the models available became more advanced. Synthetic stump sleeves which reduce friction and minimize pressure points have been crucial to making limbs feel more natural. Micro processors have also had a place in regulating movement and gait. And unusual looking pieces, like C-bars and C-feet, mimic the natural running shape of the foot. This technology allows sprinters with amputated limbs to run faster.

But will these new limbs ever replace human bone and muscle? Namie Han seems to think so. This athlete, model, and humanitarian was born with a rare condition that prevented her feet from developing. But thanks to her zest for life and the latest prosthetic technology she hasn’t let it slow her down. She aggressively promotes herself and the new technology that makes her faster than traditional athletes.

She often shows off the ceramic walking legs that she uses off the track. The meticulously textured limbs look absolutely real – right down to the manicured toes.

And Namie isn’t shy about the C-feet that she uses to compete and win on the track. She is vocal about the wonderful advantages they give her. She laughs about the time she was in a gym with a fellow competitor who had hurt his foot. The man was complaining that the injury would keep him off the track for weeks. Namie joked that he should cut his foot off. She could always replace her feet if they broke… And with her C-bars she was certainly faster than him

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