Saturday

17th Nov 2018

Stakeholder

Silicones - enabling the next big leap in prosthetics and health

Prosthetics have been used for hundreds of years, but for much of that time saw little to no technological development. They were heavy, single-purpose, unattractive and, in many cases, unhygienic.

Modern day artificial limbs are light-years ahead of these rudimentary devices, helping users continue with all facets of their lives almost as before.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Today, it is possible to replace lost limbs with high-tech prosthetics that function seamlessly and provide a more natural appearance.

You find hands that look and feel life-like or legs that move effortlessly – even controlled by the person's thoughts. In addition, the materials are durable and last for many years. Gone are the itchy, difficult-to-operate single-purpose prosthetics and throwaway pegs.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), up to a million people worldwide lose a limb each year.

Such experiences are often life-changing. For those who choose to replace their lost limbs with prosthetics, it is extremely important that the design is exactly right, allowing users to carry on with their lives with confidence, unrestricted mobility and minimal disruption to their lifestyle.

Many scientific fields have come together to create this prosthetics revolution. The expertise of doctors, physiotherapists, engineers and many others is crucial. At each step in the process they need materials that are safe, reliable and versatile.

Mimicking real tissue

Samuel receives his new silicone prosthesis. (Photo: CES-Silicones Europe)

An increasing number of prosthetics manufacturers turn to silicones for various parts of the prosthetic body parts.

Artificial joints and connecting parts made with silicone are preferred because they enable the flexible and realistic movement users require to perform a wide range of tasks.

An extremely important factor for most users - silicones can mimic the effect of real tissue, all the way down to the finer details, creating very natural-looking prosthetics that are hard to distinguish from real limbs.

This adds to increased self-esteem and quality of life for those who use them.

Numerous additional benefits are not visible to the naked eye. For example, the cushioning of silicone materials is exceptional while its hypoallergenic nature means the skin contact is gentle.

It aids in alleviating pressure and discomfort while minimising the risk of infection. Those traits together mean that contact between the body and the artificial limb is comfortable and feels as natural as possible.

Because of the durability of silicones, users of silicone-based prosthetics need fewer visits to the hospital and less frequent replacements.

Prosthetics need to suit a variety of shapes, sizes and lifestyle demands. It's not an easy task.

The future promises not only to better address these challenges, but offers the possibility to enhance users' abilities.

3D printing is having a major impact on manufacturing, creating prosthetics that are more adaptable, faster.

As the sector continues to advance, especially into the realm of bionics, we can only expect better performing solutions in the coming years.

Silicones are going to be a crucial part of the next big leap in the evolution of prosthetics. And that's a good thing.

Silicone products are being used to produce complex and customised 3D printed prosthesis for hands, fingers and lower limbs.

Dr. Pierre Germain is the secretary general of CES - Silicones Europe.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

Feature

Medical technology: Advancing too fast for its own good?

The rapid advancement of medical technology has contributed to people living longer, healthier lives but consumer and campaign groups say devices should come under more scrutiny before they are used on patients.

Column / Health Matters

Does the EU live up to its promises on life sciences?

Small businesses play a huge role in the EU economy, especially in life sciences, and this is oft-repeated in political speeches. But do the policies reflect the rhetoric?

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges

As anti-globalisation and protectionist sentiments threaten to come back, it is more important than ever for ASEM members to come together, think in the long term, and take coordinated actions to resist unilateralism and uphold multilateralism.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholders' Views

This EUobserver section provides a platform for EU stakeholders to communicate positions, views and activities.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us