Someday, robotic prostheses and exoskeletons might be so commonplace that amputees will no longer have to use something that resembles a suction cup on a stick. In the interim, though, there's ITAP. The technology, which stands for intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthesis, is a type of prosthetic that plugs right into an amputee's bone. This allows them to actually feel that artificial limb and walk like they normally would with two healthy legs, and it also prevents chafing and skin issues common among those who use prostheses. For ITAP to organically merge with one's bones, its creators from the University of London and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital drew inspiration from deer antlers. Like antlers, the metal part sticking into the bone is porous, inviting soft tissue to invade it and seal any surface or opening that could be infected by bacteria.
The RNOH and the Royal Orthopaedic hospital in Birmingham just finished its first set of trials in July, where they implanted ITAPs into 20 above-the-knee amputees. Many of the testers reported a better quality of life ever since getting the prosthetic. Mark O'Leary, who got his ITAP implant in 2008, says he can feel everything with the limb and has even conquered Mount Kilimanjaro, among other mountains and hiking spots, since then. You'll seriously feel lazy once you read up on his adventures.
It'll take another 12 to 18 months before the researchers and ITAP's manufacturer, Stanford Implants, can get the trial's results. If successful, ITAP will be deployed to more hospitals across the UK. Sadly, it still has to get the FDA's approval before it can make its way stateside and be of use to many veterans and other American amputees.