Nanoparticles in Prosthetics & Bionics

During my time in the Marine Corps I met several people that lost limbs in the war. I made the decision to leave the service to get my degree. Inspired by my fellow soldiers, my ultimate goal is to start a company making prosthetics and bionic limbs, hopefully making their lives a little bit easier.

Flight into Iraq
Flight into Iraq

One problem with prosthetics is that they can only be worn for a short period of time. This is partly due to discomfort issues. However, a more serious concern is infection. Our bodies sweat and move constantly, so there is an increased risk of irritation and subsequent infection with long-term prosthetic use.

Several products have been created and tested that help reduce infections caused by implantable medical devices. Some of these products use silver nanoparticles. As we’ve discussed before on this blog (entry 1, entry 2), silver nanoparticles fight microbes by slowly releasing silver ions that are toxic to bacteria and other microbial pests. The surface of implantable medical devices can be coated with silver nanoparticles, and the slow release of silver ions helps keep the area of implantation free of infection.

Perhaps one day prosthetic materials coated with silver nanoparticles will be widely available (perhaps made by my company!). While I have only been conducting nanoparticle research through the Research Experiences for Veterans program for about two months, I have learned a tremendous amount about some of the exciting advances in nanotechnology. This is just a glimpse into my first exciting idea, and I’m sure to have more as my technical experience grows.

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