A recent innovation in the field of medical is the Neural Prosthetic hand. New origination in the field of neural prosthetics shows that they require a change in the material approach. Due to the reason, that, not all of the materials are bio-compatible and provide stability with the tissues in which they are implanted. After the successful development of various prostheses, for example, cochlear and retinal prostheses, the scientists think of developing other prostheses. The new prostheses will be able to help a number of people who are injured or have lost their limbs, have epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease, people who have speech disabilities and many other who have various forms of diseases will benefit from the new emerging neural prostheses (Varrasi, 2014).
It is a mixture of two fields which are neuro-science and bio-medical engineering. With the help of neuro-scientists, bio-medical engineers design and develop prostheses, which are the life changing factor of any injured person or for a person who is suffering from some diseases like discussed above. The neural prostheses can be defined as numerous devices which can mimic the function of the motor, sensory or cognitive models of the human subject which have been destroyed due to some injury.
These devices are prepared with the help computer on which the design is made. After which, prototype is made which is used to test the ability of the proposed solution that whether it will work or whether it will have any adverse effects on the subject (Locsin, n.d.). These are implantable devices, some common examples of these are, pacemaker, bladder control prostheses, auditory prostheses (like cochlear implants), auditory prostheses (like hearing aid used by aged people who have hearing problems either due to age or due to some injury), pain relieving prostheses, conscious movement prostheses, motor prostheses, cognitive prostheses, and so on.
Why should the company adopt it?
As both the fields, neuro-science and bio-medical engineering, are newly emerged and have great scope in the future, this new innovation should be adopted. This will produce great profit to the company as there are hundreds of people who are deprived of the most basic senses like hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, and writing. So these are the people who will be buying these prostheses to get them implanted in their body. Through this, good revenue will be generated to the company and the consumer of the prostheses will be gaining the ability which he was deprived of.
Another reason to adopt this is, a newly developed or introduced product (in this case a neural prostheses) is always a site of attraction to the people and a sign of relief to those who are in need of it. And for sure, these products will gain popularity in the rehabilitation centers who work for the well-being of people admitted in the rehabilitation centers (Handa, 2006).
Problems in the development of the neural prosthetics
As this is a region where the product is in direct contact of the inside of the human body it has to be prepared very carefully. First and foremost problem which occurs is whether the material used in the development of the prostheses is bio-compatible or not. Due to reason being, if the material is not bio-compatible, it will infect the tissues of the body (as some of the materials for the development of these prostheses can become poisonous when they come in contact of body tissue) where it was implanted. Next is the problem of acquiring the bio-signal from the body of the patient, as bio-signals are very weak and cannot be recorded easily.
Then, is the issue of power consumption of the implanted device, which heats up when it uses more than the required amount of power. This is a serious problem as it might burn out the tissues in which it is implanted. The tissues are highly sensitive to rise in temperature (Garrison, 2007). Another problem is the life of the implanted prostheses in the human body. As every electronic item has some life span, so do these products also. A small issue that is the comfort level of the prostheses may make it not useable.
Solution to the problem
The first problem could be solved by a simple test of the bio-compatibility. Bio-compatibility is the ability of a bio-material that how well it performs with the host tissue (Black, 2006) without producing any adverse effects (Michel Vert, 2012). In this test, the sample is tested in collaboration with the human tissue and normal ranges of the body parameters are noted. This helps in the development of the prostheses which is bio-compatible and will not affect the body tissues.
The other issue could be resolved by making a circuitry, which acquires the signal from the human body and then amplifies the signal to a limit that can be recognized. The power consumption issue is resolved by setting the rate at which the prostheses is to operate. Thus, by limiting its operation, the amount of power consumed will also be limited. The last issue discussed is regarding the life span of the electronic implant in the body. It is possible to use such batteries like lithium ion batteries which have a greater life span in comparison of the other batteries that have lesser life span. The comfort level of the prostheses could be checked by first preparing the prototype which is made to check the durability.
Benefits to the field and company
These prostheses could be developed in numbers and then can be exported to various parts of the world where they are in need. The field benefits by this innovation as after successful researches, these prostheses could be used as an example for the next upcoming prostheses. The new upcoming prostheses can be used for deep brain injury or to stimulate the spinal cord that will help the scientists and doctors to help patients in the rehabilitation centers. Another type of prostheses is the motor neural prostheses, which are also known as the brain machine interfaces (BMIs). These prostheses can regain the ability of the motor functions which were destroyed due to the some injuries.
The benefits of this product to the field is that number of people, including athletes, who might have lost their limb due to some accident, can use this facility and re-gain their passion of participating in tournaments, races, and other activities of interest. The benefit to the company is that it will gain popularity among the other companies. Due to exports and selling of these prostheses, the company will have huge revenue which can be re-invested to make new prostheses for various regions of the body.
Black, J. (2006). Biological Performance of Materials.
Garrison, D. (2007). Minimizing Thermal Effects of In Vivo Body Sensors. Virginia.
Handa, G. (2006). neural prostheses- past, present & future. indian Journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation.
Locsin, A. (n.d.). What Engineer Designs Prosthetics? Retrieved from Everyday life : http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/engineer-designs-prosthetics-12210.html
Michel Vert, e. a. (2012). Terminology for biorelated polymers and applications (IUPAC Recommendations 2012).
Varrasi, J. (2014, February 27). Next-Gen Neural Prosthetics Require a New Materials Approach. Retrieved from livescience: http://www.livescience.com/43746-next-generation-prosthetics.html