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How tech inspired by deer antlers is the next best thing in prosthetics

This article was published on SBS Science in October 2016.

Q1 What’s wrong with traditional prostheses?

Prostheses have limitations – sometimes limb amputations resolve in very short stumps, difficult to fit to a prosthetic. A leg prosthetic enables a person to walk, but there’s plenty of discomfort where the stump rubs against the socket.

If a person loses or gains weight, their prosthesis might no longer fit correctly, requiring time-consuming and expensive re-adjustments.

That’s where ITAP (intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthesis) implant comes in, developed by a team from University College London, led by bioengineers Professor Gordon Blunn and Dr Catherine Pendegrass.

As Professor Blunn explains, “There are often issues with the soft tissue rubbing against the socket. This can cause all sorts of issues like ulceration, soreness and local infection.”

Ideally, this can be prevented by taking the load-bearing responsibility away from the vulnerable soft tissue, and directing it instead to the skeleton (via what's known as 'direct skeletal attachment').

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