AdmissionEssay: Why a Prosthetic Limb Should be in a Time Capsule
Culture is an important aspect of human beings. In fact, culture iswhat sets humans apart from the animals. History has documented therich culture of people over the centuries. Various historical andarcheological artifacts reveal important cultural aspects ofdifferent groups of people living many centuries ago. On realizingthe importance of such objects to future generations, individuals andgroups have been creating time capsules that contain intentionallypreserved artifacts representing modern times for future generations.In creating a time capsule, I would consider a prosthetic limb as itcaptures technological development, social, political and culturalenvironment today.
There are different types of prosthetic limbs in the market. Amongthem is the trans-radial prosthesis that replaces an arm missingbelow the elbow. Ideally, these prosthetics aim to mimic natural armsin their functions and looks. Nonetheless, the health condition,lifestyle, technology, and intended functions of such a trans-radialprosthesis fundamentally influence its design and functionality.Thus, a prosthetic arm has to be tailor-made to fit an individual’sneeds, meaning that not all a trans-radial prosthetic arms may lookalike. A new type of prosthetic limb called myoelectric prosthesisthat combines the best in aesthetics and functionality has beendeveloped. This item is the latest in the field and thus qualifies asan effective representative of the most recent achievements in healthand technology that might interest future generations.
The inclusion of a myoelectric prosthetic will inform generations tocome about today’s healthcare challenges and use of technology toaddress them. Although a prosthetic arm that can respond to mentalstimuli may appear futuristic, it is already in the market. This is ahuge achievement considering that artificial have been around sinceancient civilizations. As a higher number of diabetes cases andtrauma necessitate amputations, capturing these developments in atime capsule is critical to future generations. They might need totap from these innovations or even marvel at how rudimentary they arein the light of the future technologies.
I would propose the inclusion of a myoelectric prosthetic arm in atime capsule for two main reasons. One is the fact that the last fewyears have faced increased demand for such devices as the number ofupper limb amputations increase. According to one nonprofitorganization, Amputee Coalition (2016), there are about 185,000 newamputations every year in US alone with upper amputationsrepresenting 25% of cases. Other than diseases, increased vehicularaccidents in part driven by use of mobile phones while driving andwars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are clear pointers to thecurrent social and political factors facing our times. Thus, theamputation levels, as well as the drivers of amputations, undoubtedlywhat the present generations are facing
The second reason why a myoelectric prosthetic is suitable toepitomize the present times is the technology applied. Over theyears, prosthetics have employed a variety of techniques and useddifferent materials starting with wood and iron from the Egyptian andGreek civilizations (Zuo & Olson, 2014). The latest technology isthe field had developed myoelectric prosthetics that utilize externalpower but tap neural activity from muscles and Electromyography (EMG)activity. This innovation allows the prosthetic limb to mimic naturalarm movement according to mental stimulus. The prosthetic achievesbetter functionality such as grip and movement of fingers neverachieved before.
With that said, I believe that many considerations would influenceone’s choice in choosing items to include in a time capsule. As Ihave discussed, the functionalities, technology, healthcare mattersand the historical nature of prosthetics inspired to make thischoice. I hope that such an object would be useful to future healthexperts and historian.
Amputee Coalition(2016), Limb Loss statistics. Retrieved from,
Zuo, K. &Olson, J. (2014). The evolution of functional hand replacement: Fromiron prostheses
to handtransplantation. Plastic Surgery 22, (1): 44–51.