FUELED BY THE BIONIC FUTURE

How is petroleum helping innovate futuristic biomedical prosthetics?

How is petroleum helping innovate futuristic biomedical prosthetics?

Breakthroughs in biomedical engineering and petroleum-based plastic resins are making it possible for many amputees to regain the ability to perform everyday tasks with advanced bionic limbs.

The future is now.

The thought of losing one of our extremities, like a hand, provokes an immediate sense of panic and fear. We think of the stark physical pain that comes along with such an event. Quickly, our minds start flipping through to the innumerable day-to-day scenarios it would affect. Sending a text. Typing on a keyboard. Opening a bottle. Holding the hand of a person you love. The truth is those very real frustrations affect millions of Americans.

As many patients have learned, prosthetics can work physical wonders, which help alleviate the mental stress that amputations can incite. According to the Amputee Coalition, humans have proven ingenious in the field of prosthetic invention since 300 BCE. But modern options are like comparing the first horse-drawn chariot to the latest craft to be launched into space.

One of the companies at the forefront of prosthetic technology is TASKA, makers of a rather sleek, heavy-duty and waterproof myoelectric hand that comes equipped with 23 pre-programmed grip modes.

Mathew Jury is the mechanical engineer and inventor of TASKA. “When I broke both arms, my elbow and wrist, I was fortunate I did not lose a limb,” he says. “But the limitations opened my eyes to how it might be for those who have. I could not even pick up my kids when they ran to me — just one of countless examples of how not being able to do normal things is both emotionally and practically awful.”

He says that level of empathy fueled his inner inventor. “Before the accident, I had wanted to switch careers to become a prosthetic fitter to work more closely with people. But this experience catapulted me into actually inventing a prosthetic hand that solves a lot of practical problems.”

Taska 3

FueledBy has five questions for Jury and his team of TASKA engineers (who answered collectively):

FUELEDBY: What drives you all to work on innovating the next generation of prosthetics?

TEAM TASKA: We are all driven by the same thing. Developing a prosthetic hand that is not just a little better, but hugely better. For us, innovation has never been about creating a piece of new technology — it’s all about delivering real-life practicality that improves amputees lives.

FB: What’s something a TASKA prosthetic can achieve today that no prosthetic on the market could do even five years ago?

TT: TASKA has been designed with practicality and durability at the forefront. Robust reliability even when wet makes our product unique. We’re currently the only IP67 waterproof prosthetic hand on the global market. For practical people, being waterproof opens the door to doing many more tasks inside and outside without the fear of damaging the hand.

FB: Without divulging trade secrets, what materials go into creating these equally beautiful and capable prosthetics?

TT: Our hand is made from composite plastics, silicon materials and metal alloys that together provide a tough but textured finish. What makes our product unrivaled as a prosthetic device is a patent-pending compliant knuckle that allows fingers to displace in any direction at the knuckle joint. Additional attention to robust design was also addressed in the fingers with breakaway clutches. Finally, a flexible and shock-absorbing wrist helps dampen vibration from machines such as lawn mowers or kitchen blenders.

FB: Outside the obvious day-to-day functions, how do TASKA prosthetics change the lives of those who need them?

TT: They provide confidence and independence. One TASKA owner recently sent us this anecdote: “The ability to prepare my own food has had an incredible impact on my life. What was once unachievable is now enjoyable. TASKA has given me the ability to securely and safely hold a knife and fork, making food preparation a breeze. Being as independent as possible is a huge deal and has made a significant difference to my quality of life.”

FB: What innovations do we have to look forward to in the future? What’s next?

TT: We have a clear road map of development and innovation — but we’re keeping all of that quite close to our chests. However, if you look at the wider industry, it's clear that smaller and faster technologies are two obvious areas of development. Also, more intuitive and predictive control of prosthetics, neurological integration and even sensory feedback are on the horizon.