Artificial limbs are custom fabricated limbs that act as a substitute for amputees who have lost their limbs due to injury or disease. Type of limbs to be used is determined by the extent of amputation and location of missing extremity. Artificial limbs must possess certain qualities such as high strength and low weight; therefore, artificial limbs are made up of specialized materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, and titanium. These materials allow restricted movement of the artificial limb along with control over it with reduced pain.
Technological developments such as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology that allow manufacturers to develop limbs as per the individual requirements have fueled the global market of artificial limbs. Mechanical devices have been used to provide assistance to persons with amputation in performing normal functions. There are certain limitations of mechanical devices although they provide certain degree of improvement to amputees. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, it is estimated that 158,000 people undergo amputation in the U.S. every year, and the overall number of amputations being performed every year is increasing. Loss of a limb causes severe disturbance in locomotive function. However, prosthetic rehabilitation has the potential to restore function in order to improve quality of life and is associated with a greater likelihood of returning to employment.
The global artificial limbs market has a significant growth rate due to rapid rise in geriatric population and increase in incidence of road accidents and technological developments. According to the United Nations Population Division 2013, the global geriatric population is expected to more than double in the next two decades, which is from 841 million in 2013 to 2 billion by 2050. About 14% of the global geriatric population in 2013 was above the age of 80 years, and it is projected that the percentage is likely to reach up to 19% by 2050. Therefore, consistent increase in the geriatric population across the world is expected to boost the growth of the artificial limbs market. In addition, the increasing number of road injuries is one of the major factors driving the growth of the market.
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According to the World Health Organization, the major cause of death of people aged between 15 and 29 years is road accident. It is estimated that more than 85% of the world’s accidents on the roads occur in low and middle income countries, whereas the number of vehicles in these countries is approximately half of the world’s vehicles. Technological development such as digital artificial limbs which stores critical data related to the movement and integrated circuits which help to derive movements through electrical impulses of the body and continuous R&D initiatives for the development of computerized limbs working through utilization of brain’s neuronal impulses for assisting direct movements are anticipated to further drive the growth of the market in the near future.
The artificial limbs market can be segmented into limbs type, technology, and region. Based on the limbs type, the market is categorized into artificial knee, artificial hip, artificial elbow, artificial shoulder, artificial arm, and artificial leg. Based on the technology, the market is categorized into body powered arms, myoelectrics, and robotic limbs. On the basis of geography, the market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa.
Geographically, North America dominates the global artificial limbs market in terms of revenue, followed by Europe. The market dominance of these two regions is due to increase in geriatric population, high adoption of premium priced innovative prosthetic devices, and rise in incidence of road accidents. Emerging markets in Asia Pacific hold immense growth potential due to factors such as rising geriatric population, increasing government initiatives, and growing health care infrastructure. Moreover, adoption of new and sophisticated technologies, advances in diagnostic technologies, and increase in partnership of governments with private players and clinical laboratories are likely to propel the growth of the market in this region during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the global artificial limbs market are DePuy, Inc., Biomet, Inc., Zimmer Holdings Inc., Smith and Nephew plc, and Stryker Corporation.