Prosthetics Facts and Stats That Prove That Humans Will Become More Bionic in the Future
Bionic limbs, brain implants, and exoskeletons are all things that we thought belonged only to sci-fi, but now they’re becoming a reality. The advancement of bionic technology blurs the line between fact and fiction and could potentially change what it means to be human now that bionic body parts are on the rise. The latest developments include products that enhance most human functions for disabled people, from walking to seeing, and of course, advanced bionic limbs for amputees. Recent statistics show that bionic prosthetics are on the rise and might be the future of humanity.
Saudi Arabia’s Bionics Market Is Booming
In line with its 2030 vision, Saudi Arabia is ramping up its efforts to become a global technology leader. A part of that vision includes focusing on biomedical technologies such as bionics. The Saudi Arabia Artificial Organs & Bionic Implants Market is expected to register a CAGR of 1.5% between 2020 – 2025. This boom results from an increase in disabilities, organ failure, the scarcity of organ donors, and higher incidents of road accidents, leading to amputations. The latest developments and the future of bionics and biotech, among other technological breakthroughs, will be discussed at LEAP, one of the world’s biggest tech conferences in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Bionic Prosthetics & Body Parts
According to WHO, over 1 billion people live with a disability. This makes up around 15% of the world’s population. This number is rising due to an increase in chronic health conditions and ageing populations. With this in mind, advancements in bionic prosthetics are more important than ever, as they’re a part of technology’s aim to improve accessibility. This is the core of tech for good, and scientists have gone a long way in creating bionic prosthetics to help the disabled.
Exoskeletons to Help with Walking
While exoskeletons are characteristic of insects and crustaceans, humans might be able to have them too. Some of these bionic devices are meant to enhance older people’s strength due to weakening from age, but the US military is also considering exoskeletons to make people stronger.
The first exoskeleton for medical use, ReWalk, was approved by the FDA in June 2014. The system features motorised leg braces that can be made to walk, stand up, or sit down using a remote control. The device is particularly approved for people who have lower-body paralysis.
Robotic Limbs That You Can Control with Your Mind
The BrainGate project is a testament to how advanced bionics research has become. The project enables paralysed people to physically interact with the world using brain implants. The implant reads signals from the brain using 96 electrodes to help users do all kinds of things, from opening emails to drinking coffee.
Prosthetic Limbs That Feel Like Body Parts
Prosthetic limbs are getting even smarter now. Take Touch Bionics’ i-Limb Ultra, for instance; this prosthetic hand comes with motorised joints that allow it to shape itself to accommodate an object that a person is trying to hold or read muscle signals from the skin on someone’s upper arm to take on a pre-programmed configuration. Not only that, but researchers are currently working on experimental bionic limbs that can communicate more intuitively with people’s bodies. This could include sensors on your skin or even ones implanted in your body.
With the rise of disability, the sophistication of bionic prosthetics is more crucial than ever to make life easier for differently-abled people. According to an NCBI article, the USA has around 2 million amputees and performs 185,000 amputations annually. Meanwhile, the EU has approximately 3.18 million limb amputees (4.66 million for all of Europe), and around 295,000 amputations are performed each year (431,000 for all of Europe).
Deep-Brain Stimulation to Treat Brain Conditions
You could potentially say goodbye to medicines for brain ailments. Now, you can use implants on your brain that emit electrical currents that stimulate brain cells. This method is called deep-brain stimulation, and it’s already FDA approved for treating Parkinson’s disease and a movement disorder called dystonia. For instance, Medtronic’s deep-brain stimulation system was implanted in about 110,000 people. It has also been used to test psychiatric illnesses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and severe depression.
Bionics Market Stats
The size of the bionics devices market exceeded USD 4.7 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 8.1% billion from 2021 to 2027. The increase in chronic diseases, including hearing loss, is one of the main driving factors of market growth. Additionally, the technological advancements in bionics and growing disposable income in emerging economies will bolster market growth for the bionics sector.
The Increase in Amputation Drives Higher Demand for Bionic Limbs
Chronic illnesses that require amputations are on the rise, increasing the demand for bionic limbs. Various chronic conditions like diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, trauma, and malignant tumours could cause amputation and drive the need for bionic devices. In fact, diabetes patients are 30 times more likely to undergo amputations. Trauma is another risk factor, causing amputations in 20% of patients affected with critical wound contamination and suffering from substantial soft tissue loss.
The increasing prevalence of these chronic conditions is directly correlated with the increase in the number of amputations. Thus, the rising number of amputations calls for more bionic prosthetics.
Hearing Loss Is on the Rise, and It’s Spurring Segment Growth of Auditory Bionics
The auditory bionics/cochlear implants segment was valued at USD 1.46 billion in 2020 due to the increase in the prevalence of auditory conditions and hearing disorders. Countries with a high ageing population are expected to experience an increase in hearing loss cases. Additionally, the market for implantable bionic devices is projected to reach USD 5.04 billion by 2027 due to the increasing number of road accidents and patients’ high preference for bio-implants.
How Do Users Feel about Bionics?
According to a 2021 user satisfaction survey conducted by Bionics for Everyone on hundreds of users, around ⅔ of respondents reported that they were very or moderately happy with their bionic hands. This is a higher satisfaction rate than expected because, previously, bionic hands were fragile and not as useful as most people thought.
The main satisfaction drivers were the Hero Arm from Open Bionics and the TASKA Hand. Additionally, bionic knees also fared pretty well, with 77% of bionic knee users reporting that they were either very or moderately happy. The high satisfaction rate indicates that preferences for bionic limbs are on the rise, shedding light on the future of prosthetics, which will be heavily reliant on bionics.
Bionic Humans – Is This Our Future?
While the developments in bionics tickle every sci-fi nerd’s fancy, we’re still far from becoming full-blown cyborgs. According to Kia Nazarpour, director of expertise in bio and environmental engineering at Newcastle University, “There’s a lack of evidence about what bionics work and what doesn’t,” adding, “In the development of a drug, we test various versions of it in multiple clinical trials. In the bionics, trials are limited to a couple of participants.” So while research in bionics is still limited, there’s no understating how life-changing these prosthetics can be for differently-abled individuals. Additionally, although we’re far from becoming bionic humans, these prosthetics will certainly become a natural extension of humanity’s evolution. With expanded intelligence and physical abilities, humanity can reach new heights. However, will this change what it means to be human? Only time will tell.
Explore the Future of Bionics at LEAP
Curious about what the future holds for bionics and their impact on humanity? Then join us at the LEAP tech conference, where we will explore the most groundbreaking discoveries in technology with 100,000+ disruptive tech professionals from all around the world and over 700+ of the world’s top tech companies joining as exhibitors. If you have your eyes on the future, then LEAP is the place to be.