"The Wondering Jew"
Sept. 14, 2006 - 21:13 MDT
Amazing, the progress science and research have made the last few years. For instance, in this morning's Rocky Mountain News is an article by Bill Poovey of the Associated Press which informs of one of the latest advances. Herein, quoted in full:
NEURO RESEARCH MAKES AMPUTEE'S WISH HIS BIONIC ARM'S COMMAND
DAYTON, TENN. -- "Jesse Sullivan has two prosthetic arms, but he can climb a ladder at his house and roll on a fresh coat of paint. He's also good with a weed-whacker, bending his elbow and rotating his forearm to guide the machine."
"He's even mastered a more sensitive maneuver -- hugging his grandchildren."
"The motions are coordinated and smooth because his left arm is a bionic device controlled by his brain. He thinks, "Close hand," and electrical signals sent through surgically rerouted nerves make it happen."
"Doctors describe Sullivan as the first amputee with a thought controlled artificial arm."
Researchers encouraged Sullivan, who became an amputee in an industrial accident, not to go easy on his experimental limb."
"When I left, they said don't bring it back looking new," the 59 year old Sullivan said. At times he has been so rough with the bionic arm that it has broken, including once when he pulled out the end starting a lawnmower."
"That prompted improvements, part of a U.S. government initiative to refine artificial limbs that connect body and mind. The National Institutes of Health have supported the research, joined more recently by the military's research-and-developoment wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."
"At least 411 U.S. troops in Iraq and 37 in Afghanistan have had wounds tht cost them a limb, the Army Medical Command says."
"Sullivan says he is proud to test a bionic arm that soldiers could someday use. "Those guys are heros in my book," he said, "and they should have the best there is."
"We're excited about collaborating with the military," said the developer of Sullivan's arm Dr. Todd Kulken, director of neuroengineering at the Center for Artificial Limbs at the Rehabilitiation Institute of Chicago, one of the 35 partners in a Defense Department project to develop a state-of-the-art arm."
"Sullivan's bionic arm represents an advance over typical artificial arms like the right-arm prothesis he uses, which has a hook and operates with sequential motion. There is no perceivable delay in the motions of Sullivan''s flesh-colored, plastic-like left arm. Until now, it has been nearly impossible to recreate the subtle and complex motion of a human arm."
"It is not as smooth as a normal arm, but it works much smoother than a normal prothesis," Kulken said."
"One task the bionic grandfather of 10 still looks forward to mastering: casting a fishing line."
In a side box is a How It Works bit
##Nerve grafts: Doctors grafted shoulder nerves , which used to go to the arms, to the pectoral muscle.
##Signals Relayed: The grafts receive thought-generated impulses, and the muscle activity is picked up by electrodes, these relay the signals to the arm's computer, which causes motors to move the elbow and hand.
How simple and straightforward the article makes it seem. But I think some very advanced scientific thought and sweat went into the development of this arm. The technical and medical details far beyond people like me to understand.
If it were up to me I would nominate the developers for a Nobel Prize.
After all, this is real life and NOT SCI-FI . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 comments so far