How Bluetooth Technology Is Advancing the Prosthetics Industry
For many years, prosthetic devices were very simple in design and provided very limited movement to amputees. Recently, Bluetooth technology is being implemented into prosthetic devices, allowing amputees to experience more ease in movement and greater stability.
What is Bluetooth Technology?
In simplest terms, Bluetooth is a global wireless communication standard that connects devices over a certain distance. All Bluetooth devices are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is a network of physical objects, devices, vehicles and other items which are embedded in electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity. The Internet of Things allows objects to collect and exchange data.
The revolutionary aspect of Bluetooth devices is that they implement radio waves instead of wires and cables to connect between devices. All Bluetooth devices contain a tiny computer chip with a Bluetooth radio and software that makes it easy to connect. Before two Bluetooth devices can “talk,” they must pair. Communication between these Bluetooth devices happens over a short range network known as a piconet. Devices implementing Bluetooth technology are advantageous over other products because Bluetooth is low in power usage, it’s easy to use, is low in cost, and is readily available among products on the market.
Bluetooth Technology and Prosthetic Devices
For prosthetic devices, Bluetooth allows prosthetic limbs to communicate with each other. For example, consider an amputee who has prosthetic legs. The Bluetooth capabilities of each prosthetic allow the legs to communicate with each other so that the amputee’s stride and pressure, on the legs, are matched in each leg for proper regulation. This technology is also efficient in other prosthetic limbs, such as prosthetic hands, where the Bluetooth technology communicates with the muscles to allow for finer and greater dexterity so that prosthetic hands can react properly.
The biggest advantage to Bluetooth enabled prosthetic devices in comparison to earlier models is that it allows the prosthetic limb to adapt and make suitable adjustments according to each specific patient’s needs. In the past, prosthetic limbs would cause great strain on an amputee’s already damaged muscles by requiring them to lug around with a heavy metal piece. Whereas now, some Bluetooth prosthetics even come with a motor built in them, so users don’t have to expend as much energy when using them. A huge advancement being developed for future prosthetic devices is the addition of a sensor used to target nerve-control centers beyond a feasible distance from the prosthesis socket, allowing for the possibility of enhanced neural feeling for the amputee.
The Takeaway: Bluetooth Technology is Helping Create a More Normal Life
Bluetooth technology is escaping its normal realm of being limited to mobile devices and is starting to make incredible advances in the prosthetics industry. Amputees can now feel like they have actual limbs and not artificial parts, as these new prosthetics adapt to each individuals’ needs via Bluetooth. Soon, advancements in nerve-connected prosthetics will also help regain feelings where limbs were once affected.