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By Phil Hall | January 15, 2013

Daria Price’s documentary offers an invigorating view of the significant advances being made in the design and manufacture of prosthetic limbs.

For many years, prosthetic devices were crudely crafted devices that were hastily assembled to meet the needs of injured war veterans. But the large number of military amputees returning from World War II required a dramatic new consideration of the product. In recent years, the level of military amputees has grown substantially due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and civilian amputee rates based on diseases like diabetes are also on the rise.

But this situation has been mirrored with remarkable breakthroughs in robotics and neuroscience, which has resulted in new prosthetic devices that are more comfortable and more efficient. Indeed, some of the devices being created are truly awe-inspiring – particularly a robotic hand that brilliantly mirrors the movements of a genuine hand. Even more fascinating is the progress made in pediatric prosthetic design, which has enabled children with limb loss to enjoy healthy and active lives.

If there is a sour note here, it comes from the U.S. health insurance industry – according to the film, too many insurance companies stubbornly insist that one prosthetic can last a lifetime and, thus, refuse to offer proper compensation for clients who require upgrades on their artificial limbs. Clearly, the insurance folks need to see this film to understand the true depth and scope of this fascinating science.

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