In the United States alone, there are more than 1.7 million amputees. It is difficult to gauge the global predominance of amputees, but a 2008 estimate puts the figure at 10 million.
For years, prosthetic technology has been limited—both in terms of functionality and the materials they are made from. In addition, many artificial limbs are heavy, making them burdensome to use. In the past decade or so, however, prosthetic limbs have evolved substantially, and, in many cases, as transitioning towards bionics. Engineers have pushed the boundaries of what was possible in prosthetics using a variety of new materials, electronics, and techniques, such as integrating implants directly with muscle fibers.
The public got a glimpse of the advances in prosthetics when Oscar Pistorius, shown here running the 400-m at the London 2012 Olympic Games, showed that he could compete with able-bodied athletes. In fact, rivals complained that the limbs gave him an unfair advantage. In the above picture, Pistorius is shown here wearing the Flex-Foot Cheetah prosthetics from Össur, which helped give him the nickname, the "Blade Runner."