‘Smart parts’ for amputees and others: Medicine’s next big thing? – WNDU-TV

Artificial implants help thousands of people get back on their feet every year, but there can be risks.

Now, engineers and biologists are teaming up to develop “smart parts”.

Every year in the United States, 185,000 people need an amputation. More than 300,000 have hip replacements, and 700,000 have knee replacements.

Infection is a growing problem for patients living with prosthetics and implants. But now, some scientists are researching and designing “smart parts,” which are resistant to dangerous bacteria.

Michael Carroll has spent the past 10 years custom designing replacement limbs for amputees. His work gives patients mobility, but sometimes a prosthesis comes with risk.

“The very nature of a prosthetic socket – warm environment with good amount of moisture and darkness – makes it more likely they’ll have an infection,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s concern about infection is just one medical complication that scientist Melanie Coathup and her colleagues are trying to eliminate. Coathup is an internationally known orthopedic expert, now at the University of Central Florida, working to make traditional replacement parts “smarter” and last longer.

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