from the urls-we-dig-up dept
One of the most inspiring examples of a person using prosthetic limbs is Oscar Pistorius (aka the "Blade Runner") -- who will be the first leg amputee to compete with carbon fiber feet at the London Olympics. Pistorius was previously disqualified from the 2008 Olympics, but he'll be allowed to compete this year, potentially paving the way for other athletes to move over from the Paralympics. Here are just a few technological advances for artificial limbs that could create some cyborg-olympic athletes.
- Connecting severed nerves with robotic limbs needs a direct neural-prosthetic interface that could be made out of biocompatible polymers. The research could create prosthetics that are directly controlled by a user's thoughts, but such a system is still many years away from being a reality. [url]
- Paralyzed rats with spinal cord damage were given robotic legs that could respond to commands from the rats' brains, and these rats re-learned how to walk with several weeks of training. Maybe someday these little cyborgs will be as big as the Zhu Zhu pet craze... [url]
- Brain-computer interfaces are improving quite a bit, and one patient named S3 has 96 hair-sized electrodes implanted in her brain that can control a robotic arm well enough to lift a glass for a drink. The device used by S3 is a new version of Braingate that requires extensive training, but presumably, the technology will get even better and allow more quadriplegic people to have robotic help. [url]