Many people today live active and productive lives because faulty parts of body can be replaced by new materials and new devices. These materials and devices can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and the length of life.
Bionics is the use of electronic and mechanical devices that copy the behaviour of parts of the human body. Through scientific knowledge gained on the biological systems, engineering systems, and artificial intelligence, scientists continue to extend their understanding of biological principles to solve engineering problems.
Prothesis Is an artificial body part (replacing or supporting a natural part of the body eg – teeth, eye, bone)
By studying the structure of living things, chemists learn about arrangement of molecules and use this knowledge to produce synthetic materials that are hard or soft, stiff or elastic, just like the real thing. These special materials – able to function with living tissue, with minimal ejection by the body – are called biomaterials.
Engineers make devices from biomaterials and designed to perform specific functions in the body are generally referred to as biomedical devices or implants.
Scientists use the principles of engineering coupled with a knowledge of the functioning of organs and body systems for development of therapeutic devices such as artificial body parts and systems such as artificial blood vessels, pacemakers, dialysis equipment and artificial limbs.
Many devices currently used in the human body as artificial organs and prosthetic devices.
An organ is a specialised structure (e.g. heart, kidney, limb, leaf, flower) in an animal or a plant that can perform some specialized function. These varied parts (organs) sometimes become defective and must be replaced by an artificial organ or a prosthetic device. These replacement devices are constructed of natural or synthetic polymeric materials. Such biomaterials must exhibit good compatibility with the blood and the body fluids and tissues with which they come into contact. Artificial device must closely duplicate the function of the natural organ. In practice, these artificial devices are constructed from a wide variety of materials such as metals, ceramics (including glass and carbon), natural tissues (actually polymeric in nature), and synthetic polymers. Partly due to the wider range of properties available, most of these artificial devices are constructed wholely or partly from natural or synthetic polymers. Obviously the same polymer could not be used for all possible artificial organs or prosthetic devices. Rather, the material to be used must be matched to the specific use requirements. Artificial organs can conveniently be classed into four groups: (I) Bone/Joint Replacements (e.g. hip, knee, finger, total limb), (II) Skin/Soft Tissue Replacements (e.g. skin, breast, muscle), (III) Internal Organs (e.g. heart, kidney, blood vessels, liver, pancreas), and (IV) Sensory Organs (e.g. eye, ear).
|Body Part||Biomaterial used or
Biomedical device used
|Reasons for use
of artificial device
|Head, Limbs, (Skeleton)||Pins, screws and plates||Broken, crushed bone|
|Knee, Hip, Elbow, Knuckles||Artificial joints||Degeneration, damaged|
|Ears||Cochlear implants||Replace damaged inner ear|
|Heart||Pacemakers||Irregular heart beat|
|Heart, arteries||Artificial valves||Valves not functioning correctly|
|Teeth||Crowns, dentures||Tooth decay, Broken teeth|
|Eyes||Lenses||Damage caused by cataracts|
|Arms. Legs||Prosthetic limbs||Loss of limb by disease, accident|