War And Sports Shape Better Artificial Limbs

Last year I posted about the technological advancements of prosthetic limbs. Patients have been electing to remove more of their healthy flesh so that they can be fitted with more athletic and functional extremities. James Dao continues the story.

Rehabilitation programs that revolve around sports and athleticism help amputees emotionally recover from lost arms and legs. Even when wounded soldiers or civilians were not athletic before the injury, playing sports after sustaining one offers immense confidence and physical resilience. The reporter also discusses the scientific leap that has greatly improved the quality of prosthetics. “Computerized knees and ankles” Dao writes, “adjust to terrain and activity.” “Lighter and more malleable materials have allowed amputees to wear synthetic legs longer — and even run marathons.”

The author mentions two caveats to these developments. Quoting a physical therapist and an anthropological who studies military rehab programs, Dao reminds us that “traumatic stress disorder or anxieties about employment” cannot be treated with athletic programs alone. He also teaches us that the cost burden for soldiers is covered by the military, which offers extensive treatment and a variety of artificial limbs for various physical activity (skying, climbing, swimming.) For civilians however, their options are much more limited. “Buying an advanced device can cost more than $30,000; customizing them for various sports costs thousands more,” Dao reports.

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