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The Ascendance of Smart Robotic Prosthetics: Market Overview and Future Trends

Introduction:

The prevalence of limb loss is a global concern, affecting 2.1 million individuals in the U.S. alone, with chronic diseases such as diabetes, vascular diseases, and cancer being primary contributors to amputations. As the global incidence of chronic diseases continues to surge, reaching 71% of global deaths annually, the demand for advanced prosthetics is escalating. Trauma, diseases like critical limb ischemia (CLI), and sedentary lifestyles are driving factors behind the rising need for prosthetic solutions.

The Current Landscape:

With aging populations, increased incidence of vascular diseases and trauma that lead to amputations, those numbers are likely to increase worldwide. Some countries like the U.S. could see their number of amputees nearly doubled by 2050.

According to the Amputee Coalition, of the more than 2 million people living with a loss of limb in the U.S., majority (54%) were due to diseases like diabetes, peripheral arterial disease etc. and 45% were due to trauma. Rising incidence of diseases such as critical limb ischemia (CLI), which severely damages the extremities of the limbs is another factor necessitating the demand in the market. Subsequently, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles are all contributing to an increase in CLI, which usually results in limb paralysis.

The growing rate of critical limb ischemia contributes significantly to limb paralysis, necessitating innovative prosthetic solutions. A study published in Prosthetics and Orthotics International highlighted over 57 million amputations globally in 2017, emphasizing the urgency to enhance the quality of life for amputees.

Challenges and Opportunities:

With aging populations and an increasing incidence of diseases, the global amputee population is poised to rise dramatically. Accessibility remains a major challenge, especially in densely populated countries like India, where only 3% of buildings are adapted for accessibility.  As part of this new adaptation process, amputees succumb to further injuries. Experts estimate that amputees fall at about 200 times the rate of healthy individuals; and seek medical attention comparable to the institutionalised elderly. As amputees adapt to their new reality, they face higher risks of injuries, emphasizing the need for sophisticated prosthetic solutions.

Technological Advancements:

The prosthesis is surgically attached to bone, muscle and nerves, implanted electrodes pick up brain signals and help in movement, touch, etc., just like a normal, natural arm would.

Intelligent prosthetics are predicted to interface with the human nervous system and brain to improve movement precision and comfort. The bridge between the two is joined via technology and artificial intelligence. This is extensively used in upper extremity prosthetics consisting of hand, elbow, and shoulder and lower extremity prosthetics consisting of foot & ankle, knee, and hip.

Rapid strides in technology, particularly in robotics, are revolutionizing the prosthetics market. The integration of biosensor technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced materials is reshaping the field.

AI and machine learning are enhancing prosthetic and orthotic functionalities, creating a more adaptive and responsive user experience. Leading producers of rehabilitation tools have used the neural network concept to simulate a variety of morphological and biomechanical functions of the body’s missing parts.

Healthcare professionals are developing less invasive and advanced prosthetics using computer aided design (CAD) software to enhance the products. Using this software aids in designing and analyzing the product through 3-D graphics, providing the precision and efficiency needed for the prosthetics.

Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology is making intelligent prosthetics more accessible and affordable, fostering market growth.

Innovations Driving Change:

Cutting-edge developments such as bionic limbs, mind-controlled prostheses, and exoskeletons are shaping the future of prosthetics. Bionic prosthetics, with their human-like movements and aesthetics, are closing the gap between artificial and natural limbs.

Indian Space Agency – ISRO reported to have developed an intelligent artificial limb using Space technology in Sep 2022. The ‘microprocessor-controlled knees (MPKs)’ offer extended capabilities for the amputee than those offered by the passive limbs that do not use the microprocessors. “Thus far, a 1.6 kg MPK has enabled an amputee to walk about 100 m in the corridor with minimum support. Efforts to improvise the performance are underway,” The Space Agency said.

This new technology where-in the prosthesis is controlled by mind rather than mechanically, is the new rage, many companies and institutes are continuously improving the technology to bring out the best version of a truly bionic prosthesis.

Initiatives like the LUKE arm system by DARPA exemplify novel approaches to prosthetic development, offering modular and intuitive control systems.

Market Overview:

The global robotic prosthetics market was valued at USD 1.38 billion in 2023, reflecting a steady growth trajectory. Projected Growth: The market is projected to reach USD 2.53 billion by 2030, demonstrating a robust CAGR of 8.9%.

Key Drivers:

High rates of amputations due to injuries and chronic diseases, coupled with innovative advancements, drive market growth. The growing demand for prosthetics in the geriatric population manages the growth of the market. The global geriatric population is on a staggering, all time high, a total of 727 million people were aged above 65, as of 2020, as per a report by WHO. The older generation in need to replace limbs with prosthetics to improve quality of life and over functionality has been driving the growth of the market.

  • Rising Amputation Rates: The increasing prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes and vascular diseases, along with trauma and congenital conditions, continues to contribute to the demand for prosthetics.
  • Technological Advancements: Rapid advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, and bionic technology are leading to the development of more sophisticated and user-friendly prosthetics.
  • Growing Demand for Bionic Prosthetics: The desire for improved functionality and natural movement has spurred demand for bionic prosthetics, offering a more seamless user experience.
  • Government Initiatives: Governments worldwide are increasingly supporting research and development initiatives in the field of prosthetics, promoting accessibility and affordability.

However, the only downside is the cost of these technologies which make them non-approachable to the general public. These advanced technologies are still in development and testing phase and are poised to bring about a revolution in the market. Government initiatives and support for growing number of research and development activities in the field of AI and robotics also propelling the market towards growth.

Market Segmentation:

Microprocessor prosthetics hold the largest market share, providing stability and improved functionality. This technology has revolutionized the prosthetics industry and has made lives of lower limb amputees better. These have better adaptability to supply more mobility by adjusting to walking patterns of the wearer.

Myoelectric prosthetics, controlled by the mind, are gaining traction for their natural movement mimicry.

  • Extremity: Lower limb prosthetics continue to hold the largest market share, estimated at 62.5% due to the higher incidence of lower limb amputations.
  • Technology: Myoelectric prosthetics are experiencing significant growth, currently holding a 38.2% market share and poised to surpass microprocessor prosthetics in the coming years. Their ability to mimic natural movements through muscle signals is driving their popularity.

The geriatric population’s demand for prosthetics is propelling market expansion.

Regional Dynamics:

  • North America: Maintains its position as the dominant region, holding a 45.3% market share due to its advanced healthcare infrastructure, R&D investments, and presence of major players.
  • Asia Pacific: This region is expected to witness the fastest growth, projected at a CAGR of 10.2% due to its growing geriatric population, economic development, and increasing awareness about advanced prosthetics.

Key Players:

The market’s competitiveness is driven by large players investing in research and development. Notable companies such as Ottobock, Touch Bionics, Inc., EndoliteSynTouch, Inc., HDT Global, and Össur Americas are at the forefront of innovation.

Recent Developments and Future Trends

Companies like Ossur are integrating AI into prosthetics, enhancing adaptability and responsiveness to users’ walking styles and terrains. The Indian Space Agency (ISRO) has introduced intelligent artificial limbs using space technology, showcasing the continual evolution of prosthetic solutions.

  • AI-powered prosthetic control: Companies like Ottobock and Coapt are integrating AI into their prosthetics to enable more intuitive and precise control.
  • Bionic hand advancements: Open Bionics has developed the Hero Arm, a bionic hand with a realistic appearance and advanced functionality, including individual finger control.
  • Exoskeleton technology: Companies like Sarcos Robotics are developing exoskeletons that provide support and assistance to individuals with limited mobility, offering potential solutions for those with limb loss.

Conclusion:

Smart robotic prosthetics are not merely replacements; they represent a paradigm shift in enhancing the quality of life for amputees. As technology continues to advance and market accessibility improves, the era of intelligent prosthetics holds the promise of empowering individuals to embrace life with newfound confidence and functionality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/robotic-prosthetics-market

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Rajesh Uppal

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