Artificial limbs to be lighter in weight and more durable

Lucknow: Artificial limbs (prostheses) made in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the King George’s Medical University, will now have increased longevity and will also become lightweight with change in material and manufacturing methods.

Shagun Singh, who heads the workshop in the department, said, “We are gradually shifting from thermosetting plastic to polypropylene plastic for making prosthesis. Patients will get the benefit as the artificial limbs made from it will be lighter and long lasting.”

In thermosetting plastic, the workshop staff was required to fill cotton stock and fibre glass to make it tough to sustain the pressure. But in most cases of first-time users, this material did not last more than a year. The new material (polypropylene plastic) is designed to last longer, she said.

Singh said that a key issue was wear and tear of the pressure points in the earlier material. Since the new material is tougher and can sustain more pressure at pressure points (the places where the body weight comes upon the prosthesis) the wear and tear will be less.

She further explained that the manufacturing method had also been changed and instead of manual work for shaping pressure points, vacuum pumps will now give it shape. This reduces air pockets and chance of breakage to increase the accuracy.

The types of prosthesis that will use changed material include below knee, above knee, through knee, above ankle, partial foot, above elbow and below elbow prosthesis.

Trials have already begun, and people have responded well to prostheses made with the new material.

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