It's not uncommon to see someone wearing a prosthesis, especially after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent many veterans home minus a limb. While losing a limb is a life-changing event, a good prosthetist can "carve" a prosthesis with just the right fit. It's a long process that can take years to perfect.
Limbs today vary from simple body-powered prostheses moved by cables to a "fully robotic arm that has 26 joints, can curl 45 pounds and is controlled by the wearer's mind." As the stigma of a prosthesis lessens, amputees are seeking enhancement over replacement, opting for limbs that transcend what's biologically possible, even if lacking the aesthetic of a natural limb.
These new advancements are not for everyone. They're costly. Insurance doesn't always cover them, and the majority of amputees are better-suited for lower-tech models.
- Rose Eveleth - Science journalist, columnist for BBC Future, and producer and host of Meanwhile In The Future
- Michael Wininger - Assistant professor, Master's Program in Prosthetics and Orthotics, University of Hartford
- Robert Rodriguez - Amputee who plays for AMP-1, the first all-amputee team to play stand-up basketball
- Michael McCauley - Certified clinical prosthetist
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.