Every now and then, there are adequate and to the point presentations that are well done. Jon Kuniholm outlines the current situation of upper extremity prosthetics very well.
His talk highlight a few points in a very illustrative manner.
- So far, all high tech gadgets are employed (maybe not even 'used') by a vanishing minority. They do not serve the masses. They may even be deceptively dangerous to the individual - as high tech gadgetry never replaces absent / missing body parts. However, exactly that is the promise! First and foremost, amputees must find their own mental center of balance. They must find peace of mind in a relative independency of prosthetic replacement. This can be time consuming and hard. If prosthetic manufacturers use mentally instable, depressed, or otherwise unstable amputees as test rabbits for products that look good in glossy magazines but that fail to bring peace of mind and satisfaction to the user, they fail that individual person, they fail the community and they really fail tax payers that ultimately fund their behavior - a waste of emotions, hope, time, life and (most important for the few prosthetic tycons-to-be that are reading along here) money. As many amputees may have depressive symptoms and substantial problems all around - body, mind, work, play - it is strongly advisable to have amputees get psychological counselling together with prosthetic fitting. Such a gadget focus - just as extreme body focus - may just not be normal as such.
- How many micro controllers are in a body powered arm? More or less than six? What a great question. There are no micro controllers, no batteries, no cables and no motors in a body powered arm. No one knows that though. Our society believes micro controllers are the pinnacle of technical performance. My body powered arm is powered by my central and peripheral nervous system along with my muscles, bones, tendons and skin - all of which surpass the ability of micro controllers by far. With that in mind, one can devise a well built body powered arm - an art that appears lost to many of the current high tech aficionados. - That is why, with my body powered arm, I can have proprioception and touch feedback (quite limited, of course, but my two-point-discrimination of my forearm isn't all that great either) (neither is yours).
- Compare time line of prosthetic arms (today's mechanical parts ~ 1910-1920, today's myoelectric technology ~ 1950) with other products and you realize what time set back an amputee experiences. Would it make you depressed if you - as opposed to your peers - will have to suddenly employ messenger boys to run around, horse back couriers rater than instant messaging, mobile phones and electronic information access? Continuing the empty promise - non delivery cycle adds to the feeling of getting objectified - is the actual concern: amputees may appear a certain way to non-disabled people, but the way the disability looks may be deceptive. Despite big hopes of some of y'all, we are not here for you to objectify us. Your inability to see us as humans is the real disabling condition that we are affected with. It is not the absence of prosthetic arms, even - it appears to be some deeply archaic societal meaning of things that we are attributed with - the master-slave or king-underling type of time travel that sado-masochists try to re-enact in so many things they do, the baroque stare that contains wide open eyes in a wide open time window, et cetera. That is what makes Jon's time line analogy so strikingly relevant. If you may believe my arm should be far more advanced than it is, may I believe your brain should be far more advanced than it is? Is trade ethics an issue once we start objectifying each other in a first step to achieve a somewhat balanced interaction?
- Implentation, pricing, reward models, goverment control and academic control over how they waste resources under "The Amputee Excuse" (TAE) are future options to remedy the situation. Lobbying certainly would be another problem as I believe amputees are strongly under represented - but maybe lobbying is less relevant than correcting wrong mental ideas, wrong memes, wrong media hypes at the moment.