A project from a couple of Masters students in mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University, FlexLegs is sort of like a cross between crutches and Oscar Pistorius's super-fast lower-leg prostheses. They promise to allow those with lower leg injuries to walk, run, tackle steps, and more. Say the creators: "If we can help a person with no legs to run, why can't we help a person with an injured leg to walk?"
New plastic scaffolds attached to prosthetic devices could enable nerves to feel and control artificial limbs, using electrical signals to bring back real sensations. The research could eventually realize the dream of connecting artificial body extensions to the living nervous system.
Trevor Prideaux was having trouble texting. Prideaux, who was born without his left forearm, used to have to balance his smartphone on his prosthetic arm or lay it on a flat surface to text, dial, or otherwise take advantage of the technology. So with some help form the Exeter Mobility Center in Devon, UK, the 50-year-old Prideaux has become the first person to have a smartphone dock embedded in his prosthetic limb.
The holy grail of prosthetics research is and has been a kind of “Luke Skywalker hand” interface--prosthetics that respond to stimulus from the brain and function just as the original appendage it is replacing. But ideally the prosthetic wouldn’t just respond to stimulus from the brain--it would also provide sensory stimulus to the brain. It would have a sense of touch. And in a paper published today in Nature, we see the groundwork for just such a breed of prostheses.
Rob Spence, a self-proclaimed "Eyeborg," had his eye, which was damaged in a shotgun accident, replaced with a camera about two years ago. It's not too much of a stretch for Spence, who otherwise works as a filmmaker--and now he's been sponsored by video game maker Square Enix, which commissioned Spence to create a video about prostheses to promote their new game, Deux Ex: Human Revolution.
On his blog, which is endearingly named Eyeborg, Spence has posted a new twelve-minute video.
We cover biomedical science and engineering a lot, and sometimes I get to wondering: if I was rebuilding my own flimsy, flesh-based body--presumably because I'd had some ghastly dismembering, eviscerating accident--and replacing my limbs, joints, senses, and organs with the most futuristic, top-of-the-line bionics, what would I get? Would I want an artificial lower leg that sprinters use in Olympic-level races, or a motorized leg that can climb a slope as well as a natural leg? I gathered a list of 15 bionic body parts that I'd want to wear, or have installed.
Click to launch a tour of the body parts I'd want in the event of an accident.
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa just qualified for the 400-meter and the 4x400-meter relay races at this year's World Championships, his first trip there. That's an amazing feat in itself, but made more amazing as Pistorius is a double amputee, using two carbon-fiber Cheetah prosthetic legs to run. He'll be the first-ever amputee athlete to perform at the event.
This month in amazing medical procedures, it's all about Europe. Last week we learned that a pan-European team of researchers and doctors have successfully pulled off the first transplant of a synthetic organ grown from the patient's own stem cells.
Researchers at Tokyo University, along with some help from Sony, created a device that straps onto your arm, sort of like a blood pressure cuff, and sends electrical signals to your fingers that can move them in precise ways. It's called, of course, the PossessedHand.
Prosthetic hands typically come in three varieties: purely cosmetic models; hooks and other low-cost mechanical appendages that provide a limited range of motion; and electronic versions that better mimic natural hand movements yet can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Mark Stark’s prosthetic incorporates the best elements of each. Although its minimalist plastic assembly is nearly as light and inexpensive as a common steel hook, it looks and moves like a high-end electronic hand.