After over 15 years of war in the Middle East, after the 911 disaster, we are left with a large population of brave broken soldiers who did too many tours under the Bush administration and went down too many roads filled with mine fields of bombs. Many came home with missing limbs if they were able to even return home. We can’t just give these people wheelchairs and crutches anymore. American universities are overflowing with students wanting to major in engineering degrees. More than 36 million Americans now live with physical disabilities. Innovation from our engineers are helping those people.
Rapid advancements in bioengineering and robotics has brought a revolution in bionic technology. Years ago the things they are producing would have been thought of as science fiction. There is a future and a sore need for bionics to get these soldiers up and walking, grasping and functioning as whole human beings again. They are the perfect candidates because they are still young and healthy except for the fact they have lost limbs. There is even now the world’s first Cybathlon that took place in Switzerland. It was the first ever bionic Olympics where once broken people were competing in events with their bionic limbs. Bionics is the art of assisted technology and innovation.
The Cybathlon is the first competition of its kind. People competed from all over the world showing advanced technology from all over the world to assist humans with disabilities. There are motorized hands that do everything including a freaky 360 degree turn. In some aspects they are better than anything they could have been born with in terms of extraordinary mobility and strength. After all, now they are part machine. Paralyzed people can now take steps without hesitation. They now have the ability to do simple things that most people don’t even think about. Our soldiers suffer every day while most of us continue without hesitation.
New developments in scientific research and practical engineering are pushing boundaries making it possible for people to function normally unassisted by other humans. Lives are being changed dramatically yet again but this time it is all for the better. A team from Cleveland, Ohio is using an implanted device that is providing movement of limbs for people with severe spinal cord injuries. The device is stimulating paralyzed muscles. Before this system existed, people were lucky if they were able to move a single toe. Now they are riding bicycles with the assistance of mechanical stimulation. These type of people are competing in the Cybathlon in bicycle races.
We are in an era where robotic research can really make an impact in people’s lives. The long term goal is to make the technology as invisible as possible. Yes, the bionic man that looks on the surface like you and I. Soon we will be stretching the definition of what it means to be human. Technology is definitely integrating itself into our daily lives. It is a new untapped frontier that is now becoming very practical. The Cybathlon is just the beginning. Researchers from all over the world have now been experimenting with success implanting devices right into the brain. Dr. Ali Rezai is working in The Ohio State University Medical Center and is a pioneer in research and development in brain technology. He is a neurosurgeon and the Director at the Center for Neuromodulation. Through the brain they are treating nervous system disorders.
They are trying deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s Disease in patients. With an implant placed directly into the brain, patients are experiencing an 80% improvement in the quality of their lives. The power of deep brain stimulation gives instant improvement and results. They are also looking into treating epilepsy and severe depression this way. We need to thank these miracle workers that make miracles a reality.