There is no shortage of prosthetic technology developments. However, as prosthetic limbs become more advanced, many prosthetic users still report some level of discomfort. This is in part due to the inherent fragility of the skin.
According to Luis Garza, a dermatologist at Johns Hopkins, the skin around your residual limb is not designed to withstand 2.5 times your body weight with each step. This is why painful pressure and friction blisters can develop.
However, this is about to change as Garza leads a team of researchers to work on the Veteran Amputee Skin Regeneration Program. This program explores cell therapy and how it could enable prosthetic users to wear their prosthesis comfortably for much longer.
Skin cells from another body part are taken, strengthened, and inserted into a specific area where more resilient skin is needed, like on your residual limb. Skin cells are often taken from the sole of your sound side foot or palms. This is because the skin in those areas is naturally tougher than the skin on other parts of the body.
The skin regeneration program is an offshoot of Garza’s postdoctoral research on skin stem cells. In 2009, Garza and his department chair, Sewon Kang, considered using their work to help the growing number of veterans who lost limbs.
Ten years later, in the summer of 2019, researchers tested the technology on subjects without amputations. This allowed the team to refine the content, method, dose, and frequency of stem cell injections. In August 2019, the program registered its first amputee subject.
This technology, which could be finalized within five years, is expected to be game-changing not only for veterans and military service members but also for Americans who have gone through an amputation surgery for medical reasons.What do you think of this scientific improvement? If available commercially, would you consider getting the procedure to toughen the skin around your residual limb?