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In Frontiers in rehabilitation sciences

Technological advances from Industry 1.0 to 4.0, have exercised an increasing influence on prosthetic technology and practices. This paper explores the historical development of the sector within the greater context of industrial revolution. Over the course of the first and up the midpoint of the second industrial revolutions, Industry 1.0 and 2.0, the production and provision of prosthetic devices was an ad hoc process performed by a range of craftspeople. Historical events and technological innovation in the mid-part of Industry 2.0 created an inflection point resulting in the emergence of prosthetists who concentrated solely on hand crafting and fitting artificial limbs as a professional specialty. The third industrial revolution, Industry 3.0, began transforming prosthetic devices themselves. Static or body powered devices began to incorporate digital technology and myoelectric control options and hand carved wood sockets transitioned to laminated designs. Industry 4.0 continued digital advancements and augmenting them with data bases which to which machine learning (M/L) could be applied. This made it possible to use modeling software to better design various elements of prosthetic componentry in conjunction with new materials, additive manufacturing processes and mass customization capabilities. Digitization also began supporting clinical practices, allowing the development of clinical evaluation tools which were becoming a necessity as those paying for devices began requiring objective evidence that the prosthetic technology being paid for was clinically and functionally appropriate and cost effective. Two additional disruptive dynamics emerged. The first was the use of social media tools, allowing amputees to connect directly with engineers and tech developers and become participants in the prosthetic design process. The second was innovation in medical treatments, from diabetes treatments having the potential to reduce the number of lower limb amputations to Osseointegration techniques, which allow for the direct attachment of a prosthesis to a bone anchored implant. Both have the potential to impact prosthetic clinical and business models. Questions remains as to how current prosthetic clinical practitioners will respond and adapt as Industry 4.0 as it continues to shape the sector.

Raschke Silvia Ursula


Industry 4.0, history, innovation, prosthetics, technology