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Rare Metals

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 143–155 | Cite as

Regenerative engineering and bionic limbs

  • Roshan James
  • Cato T. LaurencinEmail author
Article

Abstract

Amputations of the upper extremity are severely debilitating, current treatments support very basic limb movement, and patients undergo extensive physiotherapy and psychological counseling. There is no prosthesis that allows the amputees near normal function. With increasing number of amputees due to injuries sustained in accidents, natural calamities, and international conflicts, there is a growing requirement for novel strategies and new discoveries. Advances have been made in technological, material, and in prosthesis integration where researchers are now exploring artificial prosthesis that integrate with the residual tissues and function based on signal impulses received from the residual nerves. Efforts are focused on challenging experts in different disciplines to integrate ideas and technologies to allow for the regeneration of injured tissues, recording on tissue signals and feedback to facilitate responsive movements and gradations of muscle force. A fully functional replacement and regenerative or integrated prosthesis will rely on interface of biological process with robotic systems to allow individual control of movement such as at the elbow, forearm, digits, and thumb in the upper extremity. Regenerative engineering focused on the regeneration of complex tissue and organ systems will be realized by the cross-fertilization of advances over the past 30 years in the fields of tissue engineering, nanotechnology, stem cell science, and developmental biology. The convergence of toolboxes crated within each discipline will allow interdisciplinary teams from engineering, science, and medicine to realize new strategies, mergers of disparate technologies, such as biophysics, smart bionics, and the healing power of the mind. Tackling the clinical challenges, interfacing the biological process with bionic technologies, engineering biological control of the electronic systems, and feedback will be the important goals in regenerative engineering over the next two decades.

Keywords

Bionic Electrical stimulation Regenerative engineering Muscle Nerve Prosthetic 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences. Authors also acknowledge the funding from National Science Foundation Award (Nos. IIP-1311907, IIP-1355327 and EFRI-1332329). Dr. Laurencin was the recipient of the Presidential Faculty Fellowship Award from President William Clinton and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentorship from President Barack Obama. Dr. Laurencin is the recipient of the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (No. 1DP1AR068147-01).

Conflict of interest

C.T. Laurencin discloses a financial interest (stock and consulting agreement) in Soft Tissue Regeneration Incorporated, Natural Polymer Devices Incorporated and Novartis International AG. The author (C.T. Laurencin) also discloses receiving royalties from Globus Medical Inc. R.J. declares no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© The Nonferrous Metals Society of China and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Regenerative EngineeringUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biological, Physical and Engineering SciencesUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  4. 4.Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational ScienceFarmingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular EngineeringUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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