Mattel's Barbie Doll, the doll girls have loved for nearly half a century, has found a place in orthopedic medicine. According to the May issue of Scientific American, Jane Bahor, an anasplastologist from Duke University Medical Center, has made the discovery that a Barbie doll's flexible knee joint can be implanted into prosthetic fingers leading to a more functional and lifelike product.
Barbie's shapely and famous knee contains a rachet joint that acts similarly to bone. Bahor sculpts foam around the joint and makes a natural looking finger. The joint makes the prosthetic finger bend and hold position. Patients fitted with Barbie-knee-finger can hold a cup, pick up a piece of paper and in some cases even write. The fingers can be manipulated by bending them against a hard surface or moving them into place with the other hand.
Anyone who's every owned a Barbie can guess the only drawback to the fingers. When a patient adjusts the joint in the finger, it makes a loud crack, much like the noise of cracking knuckles. Jane Bahor is trying to reduce the noise by wearing the joint down before implanting it into a prosthetic finger.
When Mattel learned of the medical applications of the Barbie leg, the compahy sent hundreds of the body parts to Duke University.
To read more about Barbie's plunge into orthopedics, try visiting the May, 200 issue of Scientific American online at www.sciam.com.