Artificial Body Parts

By Patrick Callahan

What are Artificial Body Parts?

Artificial Body Parts are man-made creations that can be used as replacements for lost body parts. They may include limbs, skin, and even internal organs. While they may never be as powerful as the originals, artificial body parts can be used to save and restore lives. While many advanced artificial body parts are still new and have room for improvement, the progress made by scientists, engineers, and enthusiasts has been astounding.

Prosthetic Limbs

One of the most common and well-known of this topic, prosthetic limbs can be used to allow men, women, and even animals to perform everyday activities such as walking or picking up objects.


Prosthesis have been around for centuries. The Ancient Egyptians used Wooden Toes as the first Prosthesis created, made out of wood and leather, about 4000 years ago. Prosthetics are manmade arms or legs that are used to assist the user in walking, or allow the user to pick up smaller objects. While for thousands of years, the fake prothesis were simply nothing but a creation used to fill the space of a missing arm or leg, there have been advancements done.


Lighter materials allow the user to more easily move their prosthesis. After all, they have to be made out of durable material and not being able to physically move the prosthetic itself requires the user to navigate the prosthetic from the base of his amputation or injury, which may require a good amount of energy to properly move. With the advancement of technology, moving prosthesis was bound to happen, and in 1508, a German mercenary was outfitted with two prosthetic hands, despite him only losing one hand. While one might think this to be an odd sight, the contraption worked; the mercenary could control his prosthetic through a series of springs and releases, with some obvious limitations. Skip to modern times, and prothesis might be just as capable as actual human limbs.


The ability to fully restore a human's missing limb is something that has long been desired, and with the aid of technology, that dream might be accomplished. The "Moto Knee", a variety of bionic knee replacements allows users to not only perform everyday activities, but also allows for physical labor and sports with the addition of the Versa Foot. Hands might prove to be a challenge however. Today's machines are not yet capable of receiving the complex signals from the brain. However, innovators have found a way to use existing muscles to allow proper movements that the user might desire. Of course, there is a drawback. The user has to take "anti-rejection medicine", drugs that prevent the immune system from attacking the prosthetic. Devoted people into developing prosthesis says that this is a major step forward towards replicating the human hand.

Organs & Epidermises

Eye Sight

The sense of sight is a great gift that the majority of humans can enjoy. Whether taken from birth or over time, however, people can lose their ability to see. One disease in particular, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), takes a victim's sight slowly. This is what the Argus II plans to fix. The Argus II is an implanted device in a victim of RP that is used to give the victim sight again. The installation of the Argus II is a multi-step process, which consists of the following. First, the victim will undergo a four-hour operation to implant a microchip behind the retina. After that, the person will then go under a short healing period, which will be followed up by the chip being linked to an apparatus that is cleverly disguised as a pair of sunglasses. Near the sunglasses is a digital camera which receives the light and then interprets the information to the microchip, which the relays the information to the brain.


Of course, this all comes with limitations. The recipient can only see about 60 pixels, which is due to the Argus II being configured to only implant sixty electrodes to the retina. This artificial vision also lacks color, and it is relatively difficult to descriptively identify individuals due to the the quality of vision. Despite this, the Argus II has been a successful product and has helped restore sight to multiple people with RP, even being approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Second Sight EN 2012 Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System Artificial Retina Bionic Eye

The Almighty Lungs

The Lungs are one of the key requirements for a human to be alive. Like all parts of the human body, the Lungs can be damaged, infected, and destroyed beyond repair. Since the Lungs are apart of the respiratory system, it's quite easy to abuse them. Inhaling smoke or chemicals can lead a variety of complications that can all occur in the Lungs. While treatment is an option, there is no possible way to actually create lung cells. This is where the Biolung comes into play. The MC3 Biolung, about the size of a soda can, is a temporary solution to a lung disease. Not only is it an implant, meaning that it's portable since it is inside your body, it also doesn't damage your red blood cells, which is something common that happens with the ECMO, a similar, but inferior machine found in hospitals that patients are required to be hooked up to. The Biolung is mainly useful for patients who suffer from pneumonia or an illness due to smoke inhalation.

The Heart

Another key factor in order to live, the heart pumps blood to traverse the body. Having such a crucial role, the heart, like any organ, can contract diseases. One deadly disease is heart failure, which affects over one million Americans. Introducing the BiVACTOR, a TAH (Total Artificial Heart) that is a true solution to Heart Failure. The BiVACTOR does the same simple job the heart does. Despite this, it's a pretty complex machine, ingenious machine. The Chief Medical Officer of BiVACTOR's creators says that if it were any common machine that revolves around a lot of moving parts for it to work, the machine would quickly wear out considering how many times a human's heart beats in his or her lifetime. This is where the BiVACTOR is different, however. Being half the size of a can, the machine only has one moving part which is suspended between two magnetic fields so that it doesn't touch any thing expect the blood it pumps, which keeps the blood flow stable. Tests done on animals for a month shows that the BiVACTOR allows them to walk on treadmills, and it's estimated that a BiVACTOR will last from five to ten years. Being able to work both the right and left side of the heart, the BiVACTOR may just be able to save the 21 people who die daily from waiting for a heart transplant.

Economics

Of course, when genius technology comes along, there are obvious costs when it comes to bringing it to reality for the public. The Argus II itself costs about $150,000 USD. That doesn't even include the surgery required, and with a potential upgrade upcoming that may include colored vision, the cost may skyrocket even more. But that's not the worst of it. The BiVACTOR is relatively new and needs to go through various tests before it can reach the public. Now some people may think that this will just take some time, but it will require much than time. The total amount for all of the required tests will be $5,000,000 USD. Of course, the attempt to create a save and efficient artificial heart has been heard by millions of people, and the BiVACTOR's team has received donations as large as 5.25 Million dollars. However, the very development of the BiVACTOR was costly, and it's possible that the team has used a large sum of the donations that they've received. It doesn't help that some of the richest people in the world do not respond to the BiVACTOR team whenever they try to contact them. Despite the setbacks, another donation has been set up, but not by the BiVACTOR team this time.


Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital Foundation started an appeal to raise another large sum of $5,000,000 needed for the team to start testing the heart on humans in 2018. Overall, however, there is hope in the future for Artificial Human Body Parts. With the BiVACTOR in progress, the Argus II in the process of getting an upgrade, and the Biolung being used as a supplement until it is possible to create Lungs, it is possible that human advancement can boom again in this category, which can save the lives of millions.