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Prosthetics

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It’s 2562, and every aspect of technology has advanced beyond humanity's wildest dreams. Teleportation is common, phoron has made interstellar travel relatively fast and easy, and colonization of planets all across the solar system has solved resource issues for a lot of groups. Even healthcare is far beyond today’s standards, with life threatening injuries and permanently crippling accidents now recoverable in mere hours.

Except when they aren't. Sometimes, the doctors can’t get to you in time. Sometimes, they can’t save the limb. In worst case scenarios, they can’t save the rest of you either. But life goes on, and so too, will you. After all, it’s 2562, and medical science is highly advanced.

What Are Prosthetics

Prosthetics are replacement limbs and organs designed to be attached to the body permanently after losing the original organic ones. If your arm is crushed beyond repair, you’re getting a prosthetic. If your legs are cut off by a lunatic, you’re getting a prosthetic. If your eyes were gouged out, you’re getting synthetic eyes (still prosthetics.) Prosthetics aren’t just limb replacements, either. Any organ or other body part your body needs but lost that gets replaced with something mechanical is a prosthetic.

Medical Prosthetic Brands

Most of the mega-corps produce a brand of prosthetic, with varying costs values and focuses, but all of them share some things in common. First, they’re meant as a replacement to lost limbs, not as an upgrade. Second, they’re medical products, meaning corporations without a major medical focus will be producing sub-par prosthetics.

Unbranded

The bottom of the barrel, unbranded prosthetics are exactly that. Unbranded, jerry-rigged prosthetics made at the bare minimum cost. These are metal and plastic parts with exposed wiring and hydraulics, and tend to be very low-quality, to the point that they may even have trouble lifting more than a few pounds. If you’re using unbranded prosthetics, odds are good they were printed in an emergency, since no one in their right mind would willingly use them for long if they have any other choice.

NanoTrasen

The worst of the brand name prosthetics, Nanotrasen Prosthetics are what you’re going to see getting given to folks who lose a limb on the ship if they don’t object, and are effectively clunky pieces of plastic with motors attatched. In terms of functionality, these are only a little better than unbranded, being able to match normal human strength levels in some cases, though they typically lack a lot of dexterity compared to the original limbs. Likely the only brand of prosthetics covered by NT employee healthcare.

Xion

The second cheapest brand name prosthetics, Xion brand prosthetics are aesthetically very minimal, looking very similar to real world prosthetics at present, with little in the way of additional features or aesthetics. Sections of these prosthetics are often just exposed rods with the mechanical motors and joints in very minimalistic casings. In terms of use, Xion brand prosthetics are the bottom line prosthetics most people will receive from insurance when they even get one. These Prosthetics are typically replaced at the first opportunity due to the uncomfortable shape and poor balance they have. They are produced cheaply, and for people working jobs with high risks of losing a limb, they may keep them due to ease of replacement.

Ward-Takahashi

Stylistically, Ward-Takahashi brand prosthetics have a certain aesthetic to them that some people enjoy, invoking science fiction movies such as iRobot. Functionally, the prosthetics replicate the general shape of human limbs, with just under the same dexterity, but visually they’re still clearly prosthetic, and are relatively affordable for people compared to the high end models from Vey-Med or even Zeng-Hu. The average middle class family may choose this brand for their prosthetic needs, without worrying about expensive upkeep or replacement, at a minor loss of dexterity.

Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals

In terms of Prosthetics, Zeng-Hu brand ones are the first models you can expect to see dexterity on par with the original human limbs from, and are the cheapest model that at least come in flesh-tone colorations. That said, the Zeng-Hu brand prosthetics, while functionally better and more realistic than any of the cheaper brands, still resemble puppets more than flesh and blood limbs. In spite of this, however, many middle or upper class families prefer the Zeng-Hu models due to the resemblance they have to flesh and blood limbs. Fully dressed in long sleeves and pants, one can even pass for human in passing thanks to the detail and coloration in the limbs. Often, these are referred to as the poor-man’s Vey-med limbs.

Vey-Med

In terms of limb-replacement, Vey-Med are the cream of the crop for limb replacement. Featuring a full synth-skin layer on the outside, and top end internal prosthetics, the Vey-Med limb is only one step down from real organic original limbs, and it shows. As a baseline, Vey-Med limbs look human, with very few tells compared to any other prosthetic, and unless one is paying VERY close attention, an individual with a Vey-Med body will often pass as flesh and blood organic unless something is giving them away such as external damage. Higher end prosthesis can also emulate certain features of the human body, such as sexual organs, realistic hair, and even taste, though taste is a pale imitation of the original sense. That said, Vey-Med prosthetics are often outside the price range of the average family, with individual limbs alone costing an arm and a leg. A full body prosthetic Vey-Med can cost more than the average house, without adding in additional features such hair and other additional features.

Specialist Brands

Bishop

Bishop industries prosthetics are focused more on a civilian market. In terms of function, on par with Zeng-hu brand prosthetics in specs, having human-level dexterity, Bishop brand prosthetics were never designed to recreate human limb function, but instead to improve them, and their sleek, futuristic aesthetic backs this up. Featuring a shining silver finish and blue crystal accents, Bishop brand aesthetics are primarily marketed to the trans-humanist crowd, those seeking to improve their own bodies beyond flesh and blood’s limitations.

Hephaestus Industries

Hephaestus Industries prosthetics also feature dexterity and responsiveness on par with Zeng-hu and superior brands, but they are designed for military use, favored by military and paramilitary organizations. Coming in standard cameo color patterns and featuring more durable casings than the other brands, Hephaestus industries prosthetics are more function over form, with a more blocky shape to the casing than the rest, though still maintaining the flexibility and dexterity needed for military service.

Minor Prosthetics

There are also a few less-considered “prosthetics” that don’t fall into the same category as the full surgical replacements, such as hearing aids and Ipatches. These types of devices can still be considered prosthetics since they serve the same function, but due to their external and easily removable nature, they aren’t in the same category as the rest when it comes to practical considerations. Ipatches are a prime example of such, since they replace the need for function in one eye, without requiring the implanting of a full on synthetic replacement eye.

Reasons People Receive Prosthetics

Regardless of who you are, or what walk of life you come from, with very few rare exceptions getting your first, or really any prosthetic can be a major change in a person’s life. You need to learn to control the new prosthetic if it’s a limb, and in all cases, you have to learn to maintain your new prosthetics properly, to avoid them needing replaced again. This can be a major challenge, especially with cheaper prosthetics, and is not a fast process.

Depending on the reason for receiving your prosthetic, your process of adapting to the new prosthetic will differ, and depending on what the prosthetic is replacing, it will differ even further.

Traumatic Accident

This is among the more mundane reasons people end up with prosthetics, but it’s one of the more gruesome ones, Traumatic accidents can range from something as mundane as a car wreck or being mauled by an animal to engineering issues like touching a live wire with so much power it throws you across the room and vaporizes the limb that touched it. These are often messy, being less predictable in terms of the damage involved and it’s scope compared to something like firearm related wounds or the like.

Combat

The second most common cause of receiving a prosthesis on the Torch. You may lose a limb from things like shrapnel, energy weapons, high caliber rounds, and other potentially lethal causes. These injuries, while gruesome, are often something a doctor can be trained to deal with specifically due to the more predictable nature of the damage involved.

Disease/Other

Probably the least likely reason you’ll see a prosthetic among the crew, these are things like birth defects, crippling diseases, and the like that aren’t able to be cured by medical science, but can be compensated for. Blindness, deafness, etc. are also lumped into this, and can be corrected surgically as well, often with less complications than most other treatment options.

Trans-Humanism

The only real scenario where you get a prosthetic by choice, Trans-humanists look to upgrading their bodies beyond the limitations of the flesh and blood they have by birth. Getting a prosthetic as a trans-humanist can be relatively easily achieved as long as you qualify, but getting a full body prosthetic may involve a LOT more paperwork to get approved due to the extreme nature of the procedure.


Post-Operation

Regardless of the reason you’re receiving your prosthetics, part of the process, for first time prosthetics and for upgrades/replacement prosthetics both is Physical therapy, as well as continued medical treatment for most cases while what’s left of the body adapts to the prosthetics in question.

Minimal Prosthetics

Minimal prosthetics are things like hearing aids, implants, IPatches, and other small and less intrusive medical products. These are often applied in a day, or less, with very little downtime or aftercare required. Hearing aids, for example, can be put in with zero surgery or other work involved. Ipatches on the other hand may require a short minimally invasive surgery to install the components that allow for the human brain to interpret the signals involved, but following that, can be replaced with alternate Ipatches such as the MEDpatch or SECpatch with zero surgery or wait. These prosthetics also rarely ever require physical therapy to adjust to them, though they may be disorienting for the recipient for a while.

Surgical Prosthetics

Surgical Prosthetics are the most common variety of prosthetic by far among the crew, and are replacements for anything from organs to limbs, with limbs being more common than organs though both are fairly common among crew. Of the two, prosthetic organs often require some measure of medicinal treatment to ensure that the body doesn’t reject the organs, and to ensure they’re functioning properly, while prosthetic limbs require both medicinal treatment and physical therapy to adjust to them properly, with the therapy being dependent on the limb replaced.

Full Body Prosthetics

Full Body Prosthetics or FBPs for short, are the final tier of prosthetics a person can end up with, and are the most extreme by far in terms of what they entail. They are, as the name implies, the total replacement of the human body bar the brain, which is encased in a Man Machine Interface, or MMI. The price of a FBPs can vary massively, and follow the same order as individual prosthetics in terms of cost, however, they replace the entire body, barring the brain. While the reason a person gets debrained and placed into an MMI can vary widely, what does not is that FBPs are the next best thing to being flesh and blood, (though some more radical trans-humanists may disagree.) and the recovery process for FBPs is long and tedious.

Acclimation to Prosthesis

The most important thing to remember about getting a prosthetic, even for something like your lungs or liver, is that you will need time to recover and properly adapt. The organs in question may ache periodically, and limbs almost certainly will, especially if you use them a lot while still adjusting to them. These are things that often get people who do receive prosthetics prescriptions for things like painkillers and other drugs to help the body adjust to the new mechanical replacements. They also count as major surgery and should be noted in medical records.

Limb Replacement

For those of you with a new mechanical limb, the chemical side of treatment is only half the battle, and honestly, it’s going to be the easier half. Unfortunately, receiving a new limb is not as easy as it sounds, and while in terms of game mechanics you gain immediate perfect control of the new limb. Acting like you have that fine control immediately is both unrealistic and a missed opportunity for interesting role play. Most of the time, unless you’re being treated in a disaster and got the limb in a rush with more patients waiting, your doctor should assign you some appropriate exercises relating to the limbs that have been replaced. The limb in question is not the same one you had before, no matter how much it looks similar and the way you move it may not be the same either. Without physical therapy, you will not regain sufficient motor control over your new limb to be able to function fully. It takes time to train your brain to use the new prosthetic and re-learn their motor skills, just like for people who suffer spinal injuries and get paralyzed to some degree. Repeated exercises involving the limbs in question can help regain this motor control, and can also help people adjust to the weight, strength, speed and other aspects of the new limb. A heavily armored Hephestaus Industries arm, for example, would feel a lot different from an old flesh and blood one.

Full Body Prosthetics

For Full Body Prosthetics this is even more true, and should be approached accordingly. Walking, talking, using your arms, and generally functioning at all are difficult, and what’s even more difficult is that you no longer feel any of the chemical impulses or needs you did before being put into an MMI. This means that not only do you not know how to move your own body, nor have the benefit of reflex, you also don’t know how your body moves, and there’s a major difference.

Disadvantages

A lot of the arguments used to make Full Body Prosthetics sound like a massively awesome thing with no downsides revolve around the loss of a lot of human weaknesses. These mean things like hunger, exhaustion, pain, and so on. The thing most people forget however is that these things exist for a reason. Pain is the way a living creature’s body tells it’s brain “I’m taking damage, stop that!” and without it, there is a high probability that the person in a FBP can get injured and not even notice, which is not good. It also means that among people who get into FBPs, the odds that they will hurt their new body in the process of learning it is extremely high, since people still adjusting won’t know to, for example, stop raising their arm past the point where it will damage the joint, or that they are overheating.

Damage

Regardless of how you accumulate it, damage in a Full Body Prosthetic is also a much more serious issue than it is for their fleshy counterparts since no matter how long you wait, the damage WILL NOT repair itself. Even minor dents and burns can negatively affect an FBP’s performance to an extreme. Damage to the hands and arms will result in fumbling and dropping of whatever they’re holding, damage to the legs will make them unable to stand and walk properly, falling occasionally, and damage to the torso or head can affect vision, battery life, and more. What’s more, the damage has to be repaired by someone who knows how, and while minor dents and burns are easy to pick up how to repair, due to them being mostly superficial, dents still require welding protection to do without blinding yourself.

For more serious damage, especially internal structure damage, repairs will need to be performed by an engineer or roboticist familiar with the inner workings of your particular brand of prosthetic, or will run the risk of causing more damage instead of helping fix some of it. Given there is precisely one such roboticist on the Torch at any given time, this means your odds of getting repaired if you get damage are low. For most people, this will mean being hindered, if not outright immobilized for the duration of a given shift unless one wakes up if you take damage, so more than your fleshy counterparts, you need to remember to run from danger if possible, to protect yourself.

Overheating

I’s also important to note that, like IPCs, FBPs need to have a Suit Cooling Unit to operate in the vacuum of space, but that you also need to have a spacesuit, though no air tank, due to the pressure damage you will incur in the process. For many roles, these suit cooling units are almost entirely inaccessible alone due to needing either EVA or an autolathe to make one. This means that in the case of breaches in the hull, you’re almost guaranteed to overheat, leading to limb failure, and become trapped in the vented space until someone decides to rescue you, if ever, even if you wear a suit without cooler.

EMP

EMPs can inflict full body damage to an FBP, rapidly leading to the crippling scenario. This is particularly bad due to the damage from EMPs being prone to cause internal damage that cannot be repaired by an average person.

Power

Aside from the physical damage risks, FBPs also operate on a power cell, meaning that they need to charge periodically at one of the charging docks on the Torch. In the event of a power outage, you have no way to charge until the power is back on once the internal cell in these chargers is drained. This also makes charging in a disaster difficult due to the limited locations you can use, and maybe even impossible. This can mean the difference between survival and death.

Mental

Additional In character considerations need to be kept in mind, such as the lack of touch, smell and taste for lower-end prosthetics, and the general discrimination and disassociation with humanity or life in general. Sudden reminders of their loss can cause significant mental stress, and it can take a long while before those in a full body prosthetic may adapt to the losses of things normally in their routine, such as the lack of a need to eat or drink, the need to recharge periodically, or how they may be treated by friends, family, or colleagues.