You are here

Sun, 03/25/2012

On the Move Again with a Bionic Body

Bionic Bodies always have spurred the fantasies of men. Today we define bionic bodies as bodies where human body parts are replaced with mechanical or electromechanical parts. Normally this is done because one body part was lost in an accident or due to an illness. But in fiction bionic bodies are much more than this. If you go back far enough and think about Frankenstein's Creature you might also talk about a bionic body. Or take Wolverine, a character from the Marvel-comic series 'X-Men'. He is equipped with razor-sharp claws that he can retract in his hand. He is an example of someone who is enhanced. In the 1970s classic there was the TV series 'The Six Million Dollar Man' whose life was saved by bionic engineering but who was enhanced as well. The main character – astronaut Steve Austin – is horrendously injured in a test flight accident. He was a man "barely alive" but, as the title sequence of the series explained, science came to his rescue.

The BBC as well as National Geographic took up the topic of Bionic Bodies and explained what is possible and what science is currently working on. Most joints for example are replaceable. Even hands, arms or legs can be replaced with artificial limbs, that can handle most chores and have nothing to do with the hooks and wooden legs one can still see in pirate movies. It is even possible to get back some functions of the eye or the ear. And the Japanese company Cyberdyne has already developed a suit which enables disabled people to walk again. If you know your popular culture stuff the suit will not only remind you of the suit of Iron Man but also of Stanley Kubrick's exceptional movie '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Cyberdyne named its suit Hal. In '2001' the nasty computer on board of the space ship which tries to take over control and kill the crew until it is disabled is called Hal as well (Fun Fact: HAL stand for IBM, the Computergiant or 'Apple' of the sixties. The letters for HAL are the letters preceding the letters IBM).

And in the United States two patients, who are paralyzed from the neck down, have been able to control a robotic arm using their thoughts. It allowed Cathy Hutchinson to drink unaided for the first time in nearly 15 years. The technique, described in the journal Nature, links a sensor implanted in the brain to a computer, which translates electrical signals into commands. And Claire Lomas even walked the London Marathon route in a "bionic" suit saying she is aiming to be ready for a cycling challenge next spring.

The Departments of Orthopedics and Accident Surgery as well as the Departments for Plastic Surgery of the hospitals of PGD International offer artificial joint replacement and/or restoration for all joints as hips, knees, shoulder, elbow, wrist or feet. In addition Elisabeth Hospitals offers hand and wrist surgery which is very delicate to perfom and Waldkrankenhaus Spandau just set up a new Center for Plastic Surgery where the entire spectrum of plastic surgery from reconstructive surgery, as well as hand surgery or cosmetic surgery will be covered.