By: 1 July 2019
How orthopaedic prosthetics  are progressing towards  a connected future

Today’s technologies for orthopaedic prosthetics are shifting away from being solely support devices in the healthcare industry, to become more mainstream in order to extend the capabilities of the ordinary human body.

Modern technologies have transformed the way prostheses are designed and engineered over the past few years. Technological advancements in orthopaedic prosthetics are no longer restricted to just improving the durability and strength of the prostheses. The growing adoption of next-generation technologies is leading the journey towards enhancing the quality of orthopaedic prosthetics in terms of ‘feel’ and ‘sensation’ of the human touch with artificial prosthetic limbs. 

The convergence of healthcare applications with state-of-the-art digital technologies is triggering the adoption of connected technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT), in the manufacturing of orthopaedic prosthetics. Connected technologies are enabling manufacturers and researchers to develop orthopaedic prosthetics that can approximate the dexterity of human body parts.

The global market for orthopaedic prosthetics is evolving at a rapid pace as market players and researchers are bringing in advanced technologies to obliterate the gap between prosthetics and human body parts. Leading manufacturers in the orthopaedic prosthetics market are boosting the incorporation of connected technologies to introduce innovative internet-connected prosthetics. 

Researchers from Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) recently announced that they incorporated VR technology to overcome the problem of phantom limb among amputees. Researchers used multisensory information to establish a better connection between the brain and prosthetics, inducing embodiment of the orthopaedic prosthetics.

Another team of researchers at the University of Chicago announced that it is leading a project to introduce brain-controlled prosthetic arms with the sense of touch. With the advent of neural prosthetics, the researchers could introduce a sensory feedback to the artificial limbs and develop a state-of-the-art sophisticated brain-controlled prosthetic arm.

Motorica, a Russian developer of modern technologies in medicine and robotics, collaborated with Kaspersky Lab, a multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider in Russia, to carry out a cybersecurity assessment of a test software solution for a digital, internet-connected prosthetics. The cybersecurity solution developed by the company comprises a remote cloud system that acts as an interface for monitoring the status of registered bionic assisting devices and connected prosthetics.

Leading players in the orthopaedic prosthetics are gearing up for tech-driven trends emerging in the market, which is reflecting in increased investments in research & development (R&D). The ongoing developments in technologies is expanding the innovation potential in the orthopaedic prosthetics market, generating lucrative growth opportunities for market players.

3D printers have become ubiquitous in a wide range of applications in the medical industry. The ongoing developments in the 3D technologies are putting the orthopaedic prosthetics market on the fast track, as 3D printers offer rapid speed of designing and manufacturing orthopaedic prosthetics. A majority of manufacturers in the orthopaedic prosthetics market bank on the commercial 3D printers to attain high levels of customisation in prosthetics at a much lower labour time and cost. 

In addition, the availability of a wide range of materials used for 3D printing has been improving the functionality and design of orthopaedic prosthetics. Leading market players are using hybrid plastics and innovative composites for the manufacturing of orthopaedic prosthetics using 3D printing technology. 

The global market for orthopaedic prosthetics is undergoing technological transformation as manufacturers are integrating 3D printed orthopaedic prosthetics with the sensor technology. The global orthopaedic prosthetics market surpassed US$ 1.7bn in 2017, and the market is expected to witness healthy growth in the upcoming years. With the advent of 3D printing technologies and connected technologies, market players are introducing affordable orthopaedic prosthetics to capture untapped opportunities, especially in the emerging economies. 

Aditi Yadwadkar is an experienced market research writer at Future Market Insights (FMI), a global market research and consulting firm. These insights are based on a report on Orthopaedic Prosthetics Market by Future Market Insights.