Guest Blogger, Savita Yopp
Prosthetics, specifically bionic prosthetics, is a field with a constantly changing landscape. Breakthroughs are made constantly, and it’s almost hard to keep pace with everything. For instance, one of the biggest problems prosthetics faced was in the form of fine motor control. It’s common for prosthetic hands to have trouble measuring the amount of necessary force for a task. For example, a simple task as peeling a banana is suddenly so much more difficult because of the lack of control over the use of force in motor control. Although fine motor control has been refined over the years, never was this more clear than in a development largely overlooked that happened in early June of 2018. Check out the video release of a prosthetic arm that allowed a musician to once again play the piano using each finger independently (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luHmXHEpF7w). To many, this sounds natural, however this was a huge breakthrough for scientists and engineers who have struggled immensely with separating one finger’s control from another. One of the most refined hands to this point still could not allow the pinky and ring finger to move separately, and the precision required to play the piano was still in progress. The hand designed was considered a marvel for its ability to grow with its user, however the precision involved was largely overlooked. Playing the piano is quite difficult for people who have two flesh hands that they have lived their whole lives with, let alone with robotic hands recently acquired and lacking all the functions of a human hand. To refine a prosthetic to the point that a musician can have their profession back, can play again at any time, is yet another amazing advancement in the field of bionic prosthetics. No more fine motor control problems for that hand!