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Prosthetic Technology and Their Electronics

November 22, 2023

Veterans and the Technology That Attempts to Make Them Whole Again

There’s a Keystone in every great invention.





Veterans Day – Then and Now

Veterans Day in the United States is a federal holiday dedicated to honoring all military veterans for their contributions to our nation’s defense, their service and sacrifice. It was originally observed on November 11, 1919, as Armistice Day to commemorate and honor the veterans of World War I. However, in 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to recognize and honor all U.S. military veterans.

Veterans Who Were Less Fortunate

“From 2015 to 2019, the total quantity of prosthetics provided to all veterans increased from 131.6 million to 163.6 million…”  (GAO November 2020 Report on Veterans Health Care).

Injuries requiring prosthetics are often associated with combat situations, and include injuries caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other types of explosive devices. Since the first Gulf War ended in early 1991, veterans who have lost a leg, or the use of multiple extremities, have learned to walk once again with the use of modern-day prosthetic limbs. Prosthetics provide enhanced mobility, independence, enhanced comfort, social inclusion and increased self-esteem. 

Electronics in Prosthetics

Integrating electronics into prosthetics has been taking place for decades. Early prosthetics were mechanical in nature, however the accelerated incorporation of electronics components in prosthetic design started to gain acceptance in the 1980s and 90s. The development of microprocessor technology and sensors that provide feedback and enhanced control enabled researchers to focus on refining the user interface and increase the overall functionality of prosthetic limbs. The 21st century has seen continued advancements in electronic prosthetics with the addition of Bluetooth connectivity. This allows users to control and customize their prosthetics using mobile apps.  Electronic technologies are playing a crucial role in modern prosthetics, enhancing their functionality and improving the quality of life. 

Myoelectronic prosthetics involve the use of electrical impulses generated by body muscles to control artificial limbs. These prostheses have motors and batteries on board to power the movement of the devices that are controlled by input from the body’s electrical signals. This technology provides more intuitive control, increased grip strength, access to multiple grip patterns and more natural hand movements. 

Microprocessor-controlled prosthetics provide more natural and adaptive movements and can adjust the user’s walking speed, terrain and other factors resulting in a more dynamic and responsive experience. 

Sensors being integrated into prosthetic limbs include accelerometers, gyroscopes, and force sensors to help detect changes in movement, orientation and pressure. 

Bluetooth connectivity enables some prosthetics to be compatible with smartphones allowing users to control and customize their prosthetics to select different grip patterns or adjust settings.

Bionic limbs can mimic more natural movements and provide a higher level of functionality and control by incorporating advanced sensors and actuators. Osseointegrated prosthesis feels like it is their own leg or arm and offers a much more stable fit providing a full range of joint movement, making walking much easier. 

Prosthetics development is dynamic with ongoing research and development and is expected to produce further innovations in electronic prosthetics. As scientists learn more about how the human body functions, prosthetic limbs will continue to feel and behave more like the real thing.Electronics in prosthetics offer advancements in capabilities, control, convenience, and comfort for today’s veterans, for which we are eternally grateful for their service and sacrifice. 

A wide range of Keystone products can be found in today’s prosthetics. These include: Battery Clips, Contacts  & Holders;  LED holders, spacers and lens capsPCB plugs, pins, jacks, and socketsQuick Fit TerminalsTest Points and Titanium Screws.

Keystone Electronics Corp. is proud to be a corporate partner of the Gary Sinise Foundation. To partner with a foundation that supports the future well-being of the men and women who have served in America’s armed forces is a privilege and an honor for our company.