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The ever-increasing cost of prosthetic limbs

RA Shepherd and Gordon Wilson discuss the costs and benefits of technological advances in the prosthetics sector

15 December 2015

In the 1960s, the development of prosthetics, or artificial limbs, took a giant step forward. Modular limbs became available, meaning that the component parts of artificial arms and legs did not need to be manufactured individually, and only the socket interface needed to be 'bespoke'. This made life easier for prosthetists and the process cheaper for manufacturing companies, and also meant that limbs were made in a much shorter time frame, which was a positive development for amputees.

Over the next few decades, knees in particular improved, and in the 1990s, technology transfers allowed the Intelligent Knee to be produced.

In these units, a simple computer allowed knees to move at differing speeds, to allow the amputee to walk faster or slower, depending on the speeds set into the operating system. Although these knees cost slightly more than less reactive knees, the NHS was able to fund t...

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