Tag Archives: bionic

The Pentagon’s Bionic Arm

When Americans are wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq, no expense is spared to save their lives. But once they’re home, if they have suffered an amputation of their arm, they usually end up wearing an artificial limb that hasn’t changed much since World War II.

In all the wonders of modern medicine, building a robotic arm with a fully functioning hand has not been remotely possible.

But as 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley reports, that is starting to change. One remarkable leap in technology is called the DEKA arm and it’s just one of the breakthroughs in a $100 million Pentagon program called “Revolutionizing Prosthetics.”

Fred Downs has been wearing the standard prosthetic arm since 1968, after he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam.

“It’s a basic hook. And I can rotate the hook like this and lock it,” Downs told Pelley, demonstrating the limited movement ability of his prosthetic arm. “In those days they didn’t have a lot of sophistication about it. They fit you and say, ‘This is your arm, this is your leg.’ And it was the best technology in those days and you just had to make yourself learn how to use it and I did.”

Today, Downs is the head of prosthetics for the Veterans Health Administration. He told Pelley the technology used for his arm was developed during the World War II era.

“There’s a hook, something out of Peter Pan. And that’s just unacceptable,” Dr. Geoffrey Ling, an Army colonel and neurologist who’s leading the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, told Pelley

Col. Ling is a physician with big dreams and little patience, especially when touring Walter Reed Army Medical Center and meeting the troops he’s working for. “We have a saying in the military, ‘Leave no one behind.’ And we are very serious about that. And that doesn’t mean just on the battlefield, but also back at home,” he said.

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Bionic eye gives blind man sight

A man who lost his sight 30 years ago says he can now see flashes of light after being fitted with a bionic eye.

Ron, 73, had the experimental surgery seven months ago at London’s Moorfield’s eye hospital.

He says he can now follow white lines on the road, and even sort socks, using the bionic eye, known as Argus II.

It uses a camera and video processor mounted on sunglasses to send captured images wirelessly to a tiny receiver on the outside of the eye.

In turn, the receiver passes on the data via a tiny cable to an array of electrodes which sit on the retina – the layer of specialised cells that normally respond to light found at the back of the eye.

When these electrodes are stimulated they send messages along the optic nerve to the brain, which is able to perceive patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to which electrodes have been stimulated.

The hope is that patients will learn to interpret the visual patterns produced into meaningful images.

The bionic eye has been developed by US company Second Sight. So far 18 patients across the world, including three at Moorfields, have been fitted with the device.

It is designed to help people, like Ron, who have been made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that cause degeneration of the retina.

The disease progresses over a number of years, normally after people have been diagnosed when they are children.

It is estimated between 20,000 to 25,000 are affected in the UK.

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Paws for thought: Pet dog fitted with £10,000 bionic leg

A beloved pet bulldog has been fitted with a £10,000 bionic leg, which will help advance prosthetic techniques used to help bombing victims.

Coal, an eight-and-a-half year old hound had his left paw amputated because of cancer last year. He faced being put down because his other legs would be too weak to carry him.

But his determined owner Reg Walker, shelled out thousands of pounds to fit him with a sophisticated bionic leg, which was designed to be compatible with Coal’s own tissue.

The titanium alloy used mimics animal hide, allowing the skin and the bone from above to seal the metal implant below without it being rejected by the body.

It is only the second time such an operation had been performed on an animal, using a technique performed on a survivor of the London 7/7 bombings.

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Bionic ‘super lenses’ that correct long AND short-sightedness developed

Bionic implants that promise to give 45-year-olds the vision of someone 20 years younger could be available in just five years.

The ‘super lenses’ will correct both long and short-sightedness, allowing patients to throw away their glasses for good.

What is more, those who undergo the half-hour operation will not develop cataracts in old age, the British Association’s Festival of Science heard.

Professor James Wolffsohn said: ‘Everyone over 45 would benefit because it means they will be able to see distance and near absolutely naturally.

‘It is the true definition of a bionic eye. You are replacing something that has aged in the eye with a technological structure.’

The concept is based on existing technology – the tiny plastic lenses that have been implanted into the eye after cataract surgery for decades.

These are stiff, however, and while the operation makes vision clearer, it does nothing to treat short or long-sightedness.

More flexible lenses called accommodating intraocular lenses have recently hit the market but they, like laser surgery, only treat either long or short sight.

Scientists are now trying to create extra-flexible ‘super lenses’ which could be squeezed by the eye’s muscles into the shapes needed to focus on both near and distant objects – and all points in between.

They would be inserted into the eye in a simple operation that replaces the existing lens.

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Nerve Surgery Leaves Woman With Feeling in an Arm That Isn’t There

Claudia Mitchell may look like your average 20-something college student. She is anything but.

As a result of an experimental surgery, Mitchell has become the first real “Bionic Woman”: part human, part computer.

Mitchell’s bionic life began in 2004 with a ride on a friend’s motorcycle. The bike suddenly spun out of control, and Mitchell’s left arm was severed by a highway divider. After her doctor’s attempts to reattach the arm proved unsuccessful, she was outfitted with a standard prosthetic arm.

Mitchell thought that her new prosthesis would make her life return to normal. But it didn’t work. Her amputation was almost at her shoulder, which made the prosthetic arm all but impossible for her to control.

“It just sat on the shelf. It didn’t do anything,” Mitchell said.

She grew depressed, thinking she would have to spend the rest of her life with one arm, unable to perform even the most basic tasks. What saved her was a tiny article about an experimental nerve surgery.

The “targeted reinnervation” surgery was developed by Dr. Todd Kuiken of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It was a radical idea: a robotic arm controlled not by a patient’s stump or shoulder, but by a patient’s thoughts.

Mitchell, a U.S. Marine, was ready to try anything to have a second functioning arm. She volunteered for the surgery.

During the six-hour procedure in 2006, doctors took the severed and dormant nerves in Mitchell’s shoulder, nerves that are used to control the movement of her arm, and put them under the muscle in her chest.

They wanted the nerves to reawaken and work her chest muscle. The doctors eventually used the electrical nerve signals from that chest muscle to power a new bionic arm.

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Bionic eye heralds cyborg revolution

An electronic eye that works like the real thing foreshadows the development of a new generation of bionic eyes and other “cyborg” technology seen in the film “Terminator” and other Hollywood sci-fi movies.

The electronic eye uses a curved detection surface like a human eye, made of “stretchable electronics.”

The first of its kind, the bionic eye produces exceptional images with lower distortion and with a broader field of view than possible with conventional flat camera microchips.

However, the underlying approach to producing flexible electronic surfaces of silicon chip sensors could find uses in moulding chips to the human body and ‘smart’ prosthetics, leading to new opportunities for doctors to boost the body with electronics.

Conventional imaging technologies have been developed for use in rigid semiconductor materials, glass plates and plastic sheets, all of which are flat in nature.

The new technique creates an array of silicon detectors and electronics in a stretchable, interconnected mesh that allows flat layouts to be transformed into curved shapes.

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World’s first double arm transplant

Doctors have released pictures of the first man to have a double arm transplant.

The German man who was not named for legal reasons made medical history by having two complete arms transplanted.

He has been given the arms of a teenage boy who is believed to have died in a car crash. The 54-year-old patient lost both of his arms in a farming accident six years ago.

The operation, which was conducted at the Klinikum rechts der Isar hospital in Munich by a team of 30 experts lead by Edgar Biemer and Christoph Hoehnke, lasted over 16 hours from Friday until Saturday last week.

The arm donor who had been declared brain dead was kept alive on a life support until the arms were ready to be transplanted.

The hospital said that the dead arms had to be kept filled with blood when severed and chilled to keep them alive, but that attaching them with chilled blood inside would have killed the 54-year-old man.

They avoided the problem by switching on the blood supply to one arm and then to the second arm half an hour later.

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Words escape me.

Also see this article on Britain’s first bionic hand.

New Prosthetic Hand So Nimble an Amputee Can Type

New Prosthetic Hand So Nimble an Amputee Can Type

A new prosthetic hand uses individually movable fingers to hold a credit card, use a keyboard and lift a heavy bag.

Researchers bill it as the world’s first commercially available prosthetic hand that can move each finger separately. The i-LIMB, made by the Scottish company Touch Bionics, is being tested at the Orthopedic University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.

The hydraulic hand went on sale in Britain last year for about $17,500 and is being used by a small number of people. The company began operations in the United States earlier this year and plans to make the device more widely available.

Unlike similar models that allowed gripping with just the thumb and one or two fingers, the i-LIMB allows a user to grab something with all five. It also feels softer and more natural than the typically hard prosthetics of old, its maker says.

Flexible hydraulic drives are located directly in the movable finger joints, and the prosthetic hand gives feedback to the user’s stump, enabling the amputee to sense the strength of the grip.

Bionic eye ‘blindness cure hope’

Bionic eye ‘blindness cure hope’

A ‘bionic eye’ may hold the key to returning sight to people left blind by a hereditary disease, experts believe.

A team at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital have carried out the treatment on the UK’s first patients as part of a clinical study into the therapy.

The artificial eye, connected to a camera on a pair of glasses, has been developed by US firm Second Sight.

It said the technique may be able to restore a basic level of vision, but experts warned it was still early days.

The trial aims to help people who have been made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that affects the retina.

Scientists Develop A Bionic Mini Device For Blind People

Scientists Develop A Bionic Mini Device For Blind People

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A team of 36 scientists have developed a mini device which could help the visually impaired to get their sight sense back. The research was called The Boston Retinal Implant Project and it was started by Dr. Joseph Rizzo III back in the 1980s. This bionic device is small enough to be implanted in the eye and it will send images to the brain through a connector the thickness of human hair.

This will be possible within a few years because the mini-technology has developed so much over the last 20 years when it was started this project. Dr. Rizzo says that the bionic retinal device acts like a light transmitter and for the moment it’s supposed to restore partial sight for the blind people, but not for all of them – this doesn’t work for people who are blind since they were born and for those who suffer from glaucoma.