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From War to Peace: How Prosthetics & Robotics Combine To Assist Our Wounded Warriors in Making the Recovery

2012 December 5
by andreakbass

One of the most pernicious weapons used against American soldiers throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade has been, without argument, the IED. Ranging from simple to complex designs, these “improvised explosive devices,” when triggered by pressure or activated by remote control, have caused significant casualties and dismemberment in both conflicts. Without the hyper-advanced medical solutions available today for soldiers on the battlefield and in the recovery wards of military hospitals in Germany and the U.S., the number of combat deaths experienced by the Army, Marines, and Special Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan would undoubtedly be significantly higher.  IEDs, in particular, have been identified as causing up to 60% of the casualties in Afghanistan alone according to Gareth Porter’s article, “How the US Quietly Lost the IED War in Afghanistan” on October 9, 2012.

The recovery process from an IED explosion lasts a lifetime. There is, as yet, no ability to replicate organic limbs for wounded personnel (though the relatively near future does indeed hold such possibilities). The veteran must return to civilian life often with unfamiliar prosthetic limbs and joints. Fortunately, today’s technology allows prosthetic limbs to be effectively used to assist a wounded soldier in returning to a mobile life independent of a wheel chair.  Today’s prosthetics are forged from high-grade corrosion-resistant materials such as titanium as well as state-of-the-art electronics thereby allowing for much longer (and safer) integration into the human body. With today’s prosthetic limbs, soldiers can walk, jog, and oftentimes run with a completely natural gait by pairing prosthetics with robotics.

At PEI, we machine photochemically etched parts that might be used within mil-spec prosthetics.  Our familiarity with precision titanium components and micro electronics puts us at an especially useful advantage in promoting the technologies that will ultimately assist returning veterans.   As the technology improves and costs become more manageable, the benefits will also flow to the countless thousands of civilians who also need prosthetic limbs to manage their daily lives.  We at PEI are proud to be on the pioneering edge of assisting companies engaged in integrating robotics and prosthetics for improving the quality of human life.

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