From cochlear implants to prosthetic hands and robotic legs, bionic body parts can help us see, hear and move almost like new!
Retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration are some of the leading causes of blindness. Vision in sufferers is restored by a chip placed at the back of the eye using a camera mounted on a pair of glasses. Its image is turned into electrical signals that are sent to the brain.
People with hearing impairment can hear with the help of a cochlear implant. A microphone under the skin is wired to the cochlea in the inner ear. It converts sound into nerve impulses that are sent to the auditory nerve.
Amputees can slip on a robotic limb and use their remaining muscles to bend it. It works with electrodes that sit against the skin and pick up movement. Sensors transmit the signals to a computer that instructs the arm to move.
People at risk of heart failure can be fitted with a battery-powered pump inserted into the base of the heart. It takes the hard work out of pushing blood through the lungs and around the body until a donor heart suitable for transplant becomes available – which can take several years.
A blend of engineering and artificial intelligence allows amputees to type or use a smartphone. A new prosthetic hand can recognise up to 500 objects so it can move into a suitable grasp mode.
As we get older our hip joints can wear out, causing pain and making it hard to walk or move. Prosthetic hip joints made from plastic and metal can replace the damaged joint, enabling people to walk, swim or play tennis pain-free. Hip joints can last for up to 20 years.
Bionic legs can restore precious mobility to amputees. With the help of sensors, some limbs can be controlled by muscle movements in the upper leg or processes in the spinal cord. Other legs are robotic, enabling the paralysed to move and walk.
– Gemma Conroy
Author: STEM Contributor
This article was written by a STEM Contributor for Careers with STEM. To learn more, please visit our contact page.