Game changer: How bionic prostheses can change lives and why AI plays a role with it._
[Again and again, people lose their limbs due to accidents, illnesses or wars. More recently, the replacement is sometimes so good that the high-tech prostheses even allow their owners to climb mountains or swim through the English Channel. But until then, it has been and still is a long (research) path.
Even in the Middle Ages wooden legs allow the leg amputees to move.
Later, the iron hand of the knight “Götz von Berlichingen” became famous. For the first time he was able to grab and hold objects– in the beginning of the 16th century–even if, it was only able with the help of his healthy left hand.
In the 20th century, the prosthetic technique developed rapidly in the face of the many mutilations of the First and Second World War: With the help of springs artisans tried, for example, to imitate more better the original function of the body parts. The number of joints in the prostheses increased.
The first attempt to let patients voluntarily control a prosthesis was the so-called Sauerbruch arm developed by the German surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch (1875-1951).
Even later in the twentieth century, matched springs made it possible for artificial knee and ankle joints to simulate a running motion, if the center of gravity shifted when a leg prosthesis was placed on the floor.
But it was only in the 1980s, that it became possible to actively move prostheses with motors.
Since then a lot has happened. As great as progress is, the road to mass production is rocky. Now the industry is on the verge of an exponential breakthrough – that's for sure – in no industry is the issue of AI so strained as in this industry.
A team from the University of Pittsburgh in the US state of Pennsylvania treated a 53-year-old woman several years ago who has been unable to move her arms and legs for years because of a nervous system disorder. Thanks to the US researchers, the woman paralyzed from the neck can control a newly developed robot hand with her own thoughts. Decisive for the progress is a new kind of translation of nerve impulses, which is based more on the natural control of the muscles.
And also the English are researching what the stuff holds. The concept invented by Biomedicine at the British Newcastle University gives the subject a completely new twist: a robotic arm prosthesis with a gripping reflex thanks to its own eye. When the artificial hand approaches an object, the prosthesis prepares itself for grasping, in order to automatically access the case precisely and in the appropriate situation in a further approach, for which the thinking prosthesis is equipped with sophisticated image recognition and adaptive software.
At this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) digital trade fair, the future is being rigorously crafted: Aimee Mullins, Hugh Herr and Hans Georg Näder – three leading minds in prosthetics – will be on stage together for the first time discussing how visions and innovations affect the lives of To revolutionize people with prostheses in the future.
This is an important topic, because to what extent a life can change by an intelligent – in this case "only" muscular controlled – prosthesis, shows the model Rebekah Marine. Marine was born without a right forearm. She wanted to be a model, but received only refusals. That she made it to New York, started with a piece of metal, because in her early twenties, she decided to buy an arm prosthesis: Since 2011, Rebekah Marine wears a myoelectric – that is, powered by a battery and set in motion by the muscle contraction – forearm.
The new arm gave her courage again. She threw the job and tried her luck as a model. This time with success. The 28-year-old ran for the first time at New York Fashion Week in 2015 and has meanwhile made it to magazines such as "TIME", "People Magazine" and "Teen Vogue"
„A prosthesis I can control with just one simple movement. It´s a game changer – just like me!” – With these words, the US-American meanwhile advertises as an ambassador on the website of her denture manufacturer Touch Bionics.
He developed – according to his own specifications – the first hand prosthesis with five individually movable fingers and is the first company to offer an electronically controlled partial hand prosthesis. The bionic prostheses should help amputees and persons with hand or partial hand loss to regain their self-confidence and their independence in everyday life.
"She decided that missing an arm wasn’t a crutch, but a beautiful way to help other people with disabilities embrace their beauty and embrace their aspirations." This is a quote from the TIME.
We take our hat off to Rebekah and can only confirm: You are a game changer!
A great role model for always believing in yourself and not discounting own chances due to disabilities. Because: Being beautiful starts with feeling beautiful!]
Sources: Hand prosthesis with gripping reflex