The Future is Here: Top Advancements in Prosthetic Technology

Technological advancement has continued to explode as the decades pass, with something new and exciting growing weekly. The field of prosthetics has not been immune to these improvements, either, seeing significant advancements that improve not only the accessibility of prosthetics but also their capability and safety.

Prosthetic technology

Prosthetics have come a long way from standard limb replacements, offering only cosmetic advantages. Now, prosthetics can interact with the environment and adapt to the user’s lifestyle. Even more, advances bringing down the costs of prosthetics are making it so that more people can experience their life-changing benefits.

While the advancements in prosthetic technology are numerous, we’ve compiled the top 3––let’s explore.

3D Printing Expands Prosthetic Coverage

3D printing prosthetics

Even though millions of people are affected by limb loss worldwide, the limited access to prosthetics and high costs, when access is available, can keep many people from using them. This is where 3D printing comes in.

By creating prosthetics using 3D printing technologies, their production cost is lower, making it more accessible for those unable to afford high-tech prosthetic options. This is especially helpful for those in developing countries and brings the benefits of prosthetics to a broader audience.

Children can also benefit from the cheaper price tag associated with 3D-printed prosthetics. One of the key components of a proper prosthetic is that it fits the user correctly, which can be a challenge for children and their growing bodies. Namely, kids can quickly outgrow a prosthetic, which necessitates another prosthetic and means that parents must incur another cost.

3D-printed prosthetics can step in here, as well, by reducing the cost of each prosthetic and allowing children to more easily have a prosthetic that always fits without creating a hefty bill for their parents.

Thought-Controlled Prosthetics

Thought-Controlled Prosthetics

Those missing a limb may now be able to experience a sense of touch again. This was the aim of researchers at the University of Utah, who managed to restore 100 sensations in amputees using an artificial arm. They accomplished this by implanting a device into the individual’s residual nerves and then placing electrodes in the muscles, creating an information loop in which change in the muscles transferred to sensations of touch in the brain.

This is crucial in allowing the brain to control prosthetics, as sensation is a prominent catalyst for movement. For example, when you’re walking through a dark hallway and reach your hands out, when you feel resistance, you know to stop moving in that direction; otherwise, you will crash into the solid surface. The same is true for prosthetics, in that the sensation of touch can set off a thought to control the prosthetic in a certain way.

This field of prosthetics, termed neuroprosthetics, is helping to bridge the gap between the user and the prosthetic, creating a device that functions much more like a natural limb. For the user, this equates to excellent safety since the prosthetic can react and adjust more quickly. The prosthetic also becomes more accessible and natural, resulting in less strain on the rest of the body because there is less need to accommodate the prosthetic through alternative movement.

Neuroprosthetics is also making use of brain mapping to improve prosthetic design further. Our brain is always working, even during seemingly simple tasks such as walking. With each step you take, your brain processes various information. It adjusts the body accordingly, and prosthetic technology is working on adding this brain activity to help prosthetics change in real-time through brain mapping. One such example of this was seen at the University of Houston, where researchers showed that brain activity helps to identify different terrains. 

Microprocessor technology offers holistic benefits because of the prosthetic’s ability to adjust its settings based on activity or terrain. For example, many microprocessor lower-limb prosthetics (i.e., ankles and knees) can adapt based on the slope of the user’s path, ensuring that their gait remains normal and they do not have to alter how they walk to accommodate the changing pathway.

Microprocessor Technology

Additionally, microprocessor ankles can sense changing pathways, such as going from asphalt to gravel, and can increase stability to improve the user’s safety.

One significant addition to microprocessor technology is artificial intelligence (AI), which allows the prosthetic to learn and adapt to the user’s preferences and habits the more it is used. Eventually, this leads to greater functionality. For example, AI can analyze how a user walks, grips, or moves in general and take this information to adjust the prosthetic in real-time. As the AI learns, it can make these real-time adjustments quicker, leading to smoother and more natural movement.


The Benefits of Prosthetic Technology Advancements

Innovation does not always equal improvement, but in the case of prosthetics, it certainly does. When it comes to prosthetics, recent advancements offer benefits in three primary areas: accessibility, functionality, and safety.


As discussed above, one of the recent advancements in prosthetic technology is the use of 3D printing to quickly and cost-effectively create prosthetics.  This allows for more people to have a prosthetic when before they had to go without.  The more accessible prosthetics are, the more people can benefit from them, and the fewer medical cases involving residual complications.  


Regarding prosthetics, technology integration has led to increased functionality, and researchers are close to creating prosthetics that function entirely like a natural limb. Microprocessors have been combined with prosthetics, allowing the ingrained computer to measure multiple variables and adjust the prosthetic’s settings accordingly, letting the prosthetic adjust based on terrain, speed, activity, or slope. The result is a prosthetic that adapts similarly to our natural limbs.

Innovation within the realm of prosthetics is also looking into connecting neurological function and prosthetics, such as using electrodes and sensors to adjust prosthetic settings based on the information gathered from muscles. The electrodes and sensors create a feedback loop similar to what the brain naturally completes to process and react to stimuli, moving the prosthetic as needed.


As expected, the greater functionality a prosthetic has, the safer it is for the user. Microprocessor prosthetics offer real-time adjustments that increase stability in the user and adjust the prosthetic as needed based on the environment. This lessens the number of falls and stumbles experienced by those with a prosthetic.

Furthermore, many microprocessor prosthetics can also detect a fall or stumble and, should one occur, implement a specific setting to help stop the stumble from progressing or to limit the damage sustained by the user.


Prosthetics have come a long way, and while the standard prosthetics intended to serve as a cosmetic replacement for an amputated limb are still available and, in some cases, exactly what someone needs, technology has progressed, allowing prosthetics to mimic the body’s natural movement more accurately while also increasing the accessibility of these devices that significantly improve quality of life.

Prosthetic technology will only continue to advance, and this can create an overwhelming landscape full of options. If you’re unsure of which choice is best for you and your needs, allow the specialists at Lawall Prosthetics & Orthotics to help you. Our team will examine your specific case and preferences to walk you through the different prosthetic options. Who knows, a recent advancement in prosthetic technology might be just what your lifestyle needs.


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‌microprocessor-controlled prosthetic foot for ascending and descending slopes. Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, 19(1).

Longworth, C. (2023, February 8). A custom fit? 3D printing for prosthetic limbs. Medical Device Network; Medical Device Network.