BionicsBy Fischman, Josh; National Geographic Magazine,
Publication Date: January 2010
Article outlines the development of neural prostheses, devices that interface with a user's nervous system to respond to commands from the brain. The following devices, also known as bionics, are described: (1) a robotic arm, in development at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, which is controlled by nerves remaining and rerouted to other muscles after its wearer has undergone an amputation, a technique called targeted muscle reinnervation; (2) an implanted device developed at Case Western Reserve University that restores hand grasping in quadriplegics following spinal cord injury, composed of electrodes run under the skin from the wearer’s chest to the finger muscles, a radio transmitter sending signals from the chest muscles to a small computer, and a receiver implanted in the chest which sends the signals to the fingers; (3) a cochlear implant, which restored hearing to a boy who was deaf from birth, consisting of 22 electrodes inserted into the cochlea, the part of the inner ear that normally detects sound vibrations, and a microphone which picks up sounds and sends signals to the electrodes, which pass them to the nerves; (4) a retinal implant system, developed at the University of Southern California, which has partially restored sight to a woman blinded by retinitis pigmentosa. An accompanying 5 minute, 40 second video segment shows the retinal implant surgery and the interfacing of the implant with the other components of the system including a tiny video camera worn on glasses, a body-worn computer, and a receiver resting behind the wearer’s ear.
Published by: National Geographic Society (Website:http://www.nationalgeographic.com)
Link to text: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/01/bionics/fischman-text/1
Link to video: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/video/player#/?titleID=first-bionic-eye&catID=1