Ever since its invention just over 20 years ago, microprocessor knees (MPK) have revolutionized prosthetics and pushed the boundaries of what’s possible for lower-extremity amputees. In many cases, they’ve given amputees a level of mobility closer than ever before to that of nonamputees. All MPKs include microprocessors, sensors, and a hydraulic or pneumatic resistance system, among other components. The sensors detect changes in terrain, which can alert the microprocessor to adjust the knee’s resistance. For wearers, this has a number of positive implications. Higher Levels of Activity You don’t have to be an athlete to notice the difference between an MPK and a regular prosthesis. Wearers can walk at varying speeds and up and down hills and stairs in a way that doesn’t affect their natural gait. The leg can adjust accordingly for different activities, such as riding a bike or driving, with minimal strain for the wearer. Increased Stability One major concern for amputees who start wearing a prosthesis is the risk of falling, especially in places that can be challenging to navigate, such as on uneven surfaces or in areas with large crowds. With MPKs, this becomes much less of a concern. A few different studies have reported that wearers experienced a nearly 90% increase in confidence and security and nearly an 85% improvement in their gait and maneuverability. And Is It the Right Prosthesis for You? WHAT IS A MICROPROCESSOR KNEE?
Meditation and Pain Relief PRACTICE PAIN RELIEF
Meditation has different meanings for different people. Traditionally, the act of focusing one’s mind has been used in religious and spiritual practices around the globe. More recently, it’s become a popular method of relaxation. Now, new research shows that this ancient practice may have yet another benefit: pain management. In 2008, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey found that over 100 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain due to conditions like arthritis and debilitating injuries. Because of this, care providers have become focused on finding ways to help patients manage these persistent aches. The sensation of pain is caused by a complex interaction of biological and cognitive factors, leading scientists to study how mental exercises like meditation can aid in pain relief. Anecdotal evidence regarding meditation’s ability to reduce pain has existed for as long as the practice itself. However, modern technology has given researchers the means to accurately measure the effectiveness of this age-old tradition. The Department of Health and Human Services has cited MRI brain scans as proof that meditation can lead to moderate pain reduction. These scans revealed that the same areas of the brain stimulated by painkillers are activated when the mind is in a meditative state. This supports the accounts of those who have reported better functionality after meditative sessions. With the ongoing tragedy of the opioid crisis, there is a dire need for pain management strategies that are noninvasive and not habit-forming, such as physical therapy. Meditation is easily accessible and can be used in conjunction with other pain relief strategies. Whether you sign up for guided meditation sessions, download one of the many mindfulness apps on the market today, or simply make time to sit and clear your mind for 30 minutes, it’s easy to add meditation to your normal routine.
Increased Peace of Mind With MPKs, wearers aren’t forced to “watch their step” as often as they might have to with other prostheses. With the microprocessors doing a greater share of the heavy lifting while the wearer moves around, they don’t have to focus so much on where they’re putting their leg. Their minds are free to do other things, and they’ll have more opportunities for employment and for spending time with family.
If you have any questions about MPKs, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our CPOs at Advanced Prosthetics & Orthotics or call our office at (208) 377-4024.
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