Robotics and Medicine Have Officially Arrived

Robotics and Medicine Have Officially Arrived

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Meet the world’s first operator of a robotic prosthetic . . .

The sci-fi concept of robotics and prosthetics has always been something medical science has worked toward, but the reality has felt just out of reach for many years. Steady progress has been made on devices to aid us, but not until now has there been a device that can replicate the lost functionality a limb can provide.

Retired Staff Sergeant James Sides was attempting to disarm an IED when the device went off close to his body. The blast left him blind in one eye, and took his hand. He was also thrown from his position and broke his forearm. He managed to make a healthy recovery, but life was never the same.

Sides received the prosthetic from the Alfred Mann Foundation after he had sensors surgically embedded within his forearm. These sensors read the muscles within Sides’ arm, then translate that motion into data that opens and closes the hand or moves the thumb. Although he still has to think about tasks before he does them, Sides is quite close to recovering the functionality he thought he’d lost.

Seven individuals are involved with this test, and the Alfred Mann Foundation hopes that each will yield useful data. Over time, the costs to produce these devices will also lower. It’s also hoped that more attention can be brought to these discoveries. Rich Davis of Rogers & Cowan is leading a team helping to promote this important event, and ultimately to get more attention and money toward the cause.

For Sides’ part, the new hand has helped give him the confidence he needs to re-enter the workforce. He says he wants to take this technology into the Colorado wilderness, where he hopes he can become a ski patrolman.

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