• Question: would you have to recharge the artificial limb

    Asked by geek life to Sonia, Nick, Lizzie, Chuen, Andrew on 13 Jun 2015.
    • Photo: Yu Chuen Tam

      Yu Chuen Tam answered on 13 Jun 2015:

      Anything artificicial would need a power source. Humans and animals use food as a source of energy,where its broken down into glucose for energy and any excess is stored as glycogen or fat. So the artifical lib/component will need to be powered.

      Current technology is either with rechargeable batteries or capacitors. in the case of cochlear implants its via a radio frequency link. Things like pace makers have batteries which needs replacing every 5 – 10 years. May be in future there is the possbility of harvesting energy from body heat/muscle movements etc.

      I the foresseable future rechargable batteries are still the best source of power.

    • Photo: Andrew Phillips

      Andrew Phillips answered on 14 Jun 2015:

      At the moment most artificial limbs do need to be charged and recharged. Blades for running are an exception to this, although they require a huge amount of effort from the remaining muscles to use and are not used outside of running. There is some interesting work going on trying to develop artificial limbs that don’t need to be recharged. This could be through using dynamos to recover energy or through using clever spring mechanisms to store energy during a particular part of walking, that could then be used to drive the limb for another part.

    • Photo: Elizabeth Kapasa

      Elizabeth Kapasa answered on 14 Jun 2015:

      Yes but hopefully engineers will develop a renewable source that is efficient but still effective. There are lots of engineering challenges to be solved!

    • Photo: Nicholas Hitchins

      Nicholas Hitchins answered on 15 Jun 2015:

      That would depend on the type of limb, passive limbs (like the ones olympic runners use) do not require an external energy source, however they require a lot more effort from the person using them.
      The general rule with energy and power is that you don’t get something for nothing. Therefore you need some sort of external power source to provide the energy/powder for movement. On a passive limb that energy would come from the person wearing the limb, on an active limb that sorce of power would have to come from somewhere else.