As anyone that reads this blog knows I'm extremely interested in the new sciences of the "man-machine" interface.
Technology is advancing at such a fast pace often called the "Law of Accelerating Returns." If futurist predictions prove correct, we'll have advanced molecular manufacturing by around 2025, and cyboregs a decade or two later. Here's a great new article on the future of retinal implants.
"Seeing a Bionic Eye on Medicine's Horizon
Monday, March 22, 2010
TAU pioneers research for new retinal implant technology
Two rat neuronal cells bound to a rough carbon nanotube mat.
Television's Six Million Dollar Man foresaw a future when man and machine would become one. New research at Tel Aviv University is making this futuristic "vision" of bionics a reality.
Prof. Yael Hanein of Tel Aviv University's School of Electrical Engineering has foundational research that may give sight to blind eyes, merging retinal nerves with electrodes to stimulate cell growth. Successful so far in animal models, this research may one day lay the groundwork for retinal implants in people.
But that's a way off, she says. Until then, her half-human, half-machine invention can be used by drug developers investigating new compounds or formulations to treat delicate nerve tissues in the brain. Prof. Hanein's research group published its work recently in the journal Nanotechnology.
Implanting the idea
"We're working to interface man-made technology with neurons," says Prof. Hanein. "It can be helpful in in vitro and in in vivo applications, and provides an understanding of how neurons work so we can build better devices and drugs," she says.
She's developed a spaghetti like mass of nano-sized (one-millionth of a millimetre) carbon tubes, and using an electric current has managed to coax living neurons from the brains of rats to grow on this man-made structure. The growth of living cells on the nano substrate is a very complicated process, she says, but they adhere well to the structure, fusing with the synthetic electrical and physical interface. Using the new technology developed in Prof. Hanein’s laboratory, her graduate student Mark Shein has been observing how neurons communicate and work together.
"We are attempting to answer very basic questions in science," Prof. Hanein explains. "Neurons migrate and assemble themselves, and using approaches we've developed, we are now able to 'listen' to the way the neurons fire and communicate with one another using electrical impulses. Listening to neurons 'talking' allows us to answer the most basic questions of how groups of nerves work together. If we can investigate functional neuronal networks in the lab, we can study what can’t be seen or heard in the complete brain, where there are too many signals in one place."
Paging Steve Austin
One application of Prof. Hanein's research is a new approach to aid people with retinal degeneration diseases. There are several retinal diseases which are incurable, such as retinitis pigmentosa, and some researchers are investigating a prosthetic device which could replace the damaged cells.
"Neurons like to form good links with our special nanotechnology, and we're now investigating applications for retinal implants," says Prof. Hanein. "Our retinal implant attempts to replace activity in places of the damaged cells, and in the case of retinal diseases, the damaged photoreceptors."
The team's major breakthrough is creating these man-made living "devices" on a flexible nano-material suited for the small area in the eye where new neuron connection growth would be needed. This is the first step in a long clinical process that may lead to improved vision — and perhaps, one day, a real-life six million dollar man."
As anyone that reads this blog knows I'm extremely interested in the new sciences of the "man-machine" interface.
In our most recent poll on this and the Blenz Community site we asked our readers “Do you think the Paralympic Games should be held at the same time as the Olympic Games?” The results are in: Yes 63% versus No 37%. Interesting!
Almost two thirds of voters think these largest sports competitions for people with the highest athletic ability belong together. The name “Paralympics” actually supports that point of view: “Paralympics” has its roots in the Greek prefix “para-” (in this context, “beside” or “alongside”); hence “Paralympics” translates into “alongside the Olympics”, and may also be interpreted as “Parallel Olympics”.
The New Zealand Winter Games in August 2009 embraced the concept of “Parallel Athletic Competition” by mixing the timetables for able-bodied and disabled athletes. They were the first major event where adaptive athletes competed on the same course on the same day as able-bodied athletes. So the idea of athletic inclusion has already been realised on a smaller scale. Why not take it to the next level?
Benefits of holding the Olympics and Paralympics at the same time could be amongst others:
•Greater momentum for these two events ultimately raising the profile of both competitions
•Higher integration and overall efficiency in the areas of organisation, publicity and operations
•Message of inclusiveness
I think that delivering the Olympic and Paralympic Games in a combined event – we could call it “The Joint Games” – would pose an amazing opportunity. As in other cases, when two or more parties put their intentions and energies together, something much bigger is being born than the plain sum total of the individual components.
Can you imagine the degree of inspiration able-bodied and disabled athletes could draw from each other and share with the world? And how about stretching the imagination even further to the possibility of disabled athletes competing with able-bodied athletes, at least in a few disciplines? Is that a possibility for the future?
Looking at our world, it’s time for more inclusion and less separation on a larger scale. One joint showcase for the athletic values of hope, excellence, respect, harmony, friendship and equality would be a milestone in human history. Combining the Olympic motto ‘Faster – Higher – Stronger’ with the Paralympic ‘Spirit in Motion’ would establish a solid foundation for athletic excellence, global connection and human inspiration beyond anything known before. People seem to be ready for it.
So which host city will be the first one to dare and hold “The Joint Games”?
While the US didn't lead the podium in the Paralympics and fell fifth behind Russia, Germany, Canada, and the Ukraine, our Olympians had some amazing accomplishments worth noting!
Our four gold medals went to the Sled Hockey team, who triumphed over Japan in a stunning 2-0 final on March 20th, to Stephani Victor in the sit ski super combined, and to Alana Nichols who stole two golds in sit skiing in the downhill and GS events.
Nichols didn't stop there, however, the 27 year old athlete from New Mexico took silver in the Super G and bronze in the Super Combined, the most of any US Paralympic representative.
The four other silver medals went to Laurie Stephens in women's Downhill sitting, Mark Bathum in mens's Downhill VI, Stephani Victor in both GS and Slalom sitting.
The three other bronze medals to go home with the US team went to Danelle Umstead in both Super Combined VI and Downhill VI, as well as to Andy Soule in the mens' Biathlon 2.4km Pursuit sitting.
Great job to all our Paralympians for their triumph over tragedy and for representing our country at the Vancouver games!
Has any body been to CafePress? They have some hilarious products for us "dis"abled folks
United States Gold 9 Silver 15 Bronze 13
Germany Gold 10 Silver 13 Bronze 7
Canada Gold 14 Silver 7 Bronze 5
Norway Gold 9 Silver 8 Bronze 6
Austria Gold 4 Silver 6 Bronze 6
Russian Federation Gold 6 Silver 6 Bronze 6
Korea Gold 6 Silver 6 Bronze 2
China Gold 5 Silver 2 Bronze 4
Sweden Gold 5 Silver 2 Bronze 4
France Gold 2 Silver 3 Bronze 6
Switzerland Gold 6 Silver 0 Bronze 3
Netherlands Gold 4 Silver 1 Bronze 3
Czech Republic Gold 2 Silver 0 Bronze 4
Poland Gold 1 Silver 3 Bronze 2
Italy Gold 1 Silver 1 Bronze
Japan Gold O Silver 3 Bronze 3
Finland Gold 0 Silver 1 Bronze 4
Australia Gold 2 Silver 1 Bronze 0
Belarus Gold 1 Silver 1 Bronze 1
Slovakia Gold 1 Silver 1 Bronze 1
Croatia Gold 0 Silver 2 Bronze 1
Slovenia Gold 0 Silver 2 Bronze 1
Latvia Gold 0 Silver 2 Bronze 0
Great Britain Gold 1 Silver 0 Bronze 0
Estonia Gold 0 Silver 1 Bronze 0
Kazakhstan Gold 0 Silver 1 Bronze 0
Pretty good that every country has at least 1 medal!
Russia's athletes have got off to a great start at the Paralympics in Vancouver. They top the medals table with three gold, three silver and two bronze after the first day of competition.
You can watch the paralympic events on Paralympic.tv . Lots of great coverage there. I'm really enjoying it!
Just days after the Olympic cauldron is extinguished the Paralympic flame will be lit for the torch relay leading up to the games.
A celebration on Ottawa's Parliament Hill will kick off a 10-day journey that will see the flame pass through the hands of more than 600 torchbearers as they travel through 10 communities in three provinces on the way to the March 12-21 Games in Vancouver.
I reposted an article about artificial limb envy and I definitely have it and much worse. I have a spinal cord injury and you would think I would be happy just walking again. I look at Japan's HAL-5 exoskeleton, the prosthetics they have hard wired to your nervous system and other prosthetics, like the "luke" hand and I wan't it.
Some people with those hard wired prosthetics report feeling in their prosthetics called targeted muscle reinervation so I'm fairly sure a cyborg body with some kind of nervous system is possible.
With 1214 amputations from the Iraq war as of Aug. 2008 prosthetic manufacturers believe this type of reinervation will bring regained feeling not only to the soldiers, but the population in whole.
I wouldn't be so interested in prosthetics technbology if I could just use my hands but my quadriplegia makes that impossible. I can use my arms and my hands to some degree but just enough to make me mad.
I have posted about blind athlete Brian McKeever before who will be the first dual athlete in Winter Para and Olympic history. Here's a great articlw
VANCOUVER - Brian McKeever says he's raring to go as he stands on the verge of becoming the first man to ski in both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Unlike Paralympics, where as a partially-sighted racer he can rely on brother Robin for guidance, this time he will be on his own for the men's 50km cross country race on the final day of the Games on February 28.
"I'll just have to find some fast wheels to follow and hang on to them," Brian McKeever said Tuesday.
Asked to compare the Olympics and the Paralympics he said: "The Paralympics is just smaller."
McKeever, 30, says obtaining a place on the podium may be a bit much to expect, though just missing a top 20 finish at the World Championships gives him ample self-belief.
"I'm not going to stand up here and say I'm going to win medals because I haven't had this experience before," he said.
"I'm not focused on the gold medal but I am focused on results.
"It's really about just taking part. It's just another day at the office," added the racer from Calgary, who was diagnosed with Stargaards disease - macular degeneration or loss of central vision - 12 years ago.
Watching a video of the course on television he has to focus his vision away from the part of the screen he wants to watch.
Asked how he deals with his disability while racing McKeever explained: "If I know where the spots are (gaps between the skiers) then I can try and pick an ideal line."
On the loss of central vision, he said: "It's a bit of a strange thing because whereas everyone would look directly at an image, I would look above it or around it. It will never go to complete blindness, it's just a central vision loss.
"There's not a day goes by that I don't wish I could see better but this is what has made me who I am."
McKeever said that by competing at the Olympics with fully able-bodied racers he was striking a blow for Paralympic racers, who have a much lower public profile.
"I think we all understand that this is important. Whether or not I want to be the centre of attention is not important," he said.
"It shows that Paralympians are training at a very high level - if this brings more attention that's great."
In his event a little chaos theory helps.
"The mass starts can be a little crazy but it's kind of organized chaos at times
For those of you that don't know about the Paralympics and which sports are going to be played, there are only 5 events in the Winter events.
The 2010 Paralympic games will be in Vancouver and Whistler, from 12-21 March 2010. There are only 5 sports in the winter games. Alpine skiing, Biathlon, Cross-country skiing, Wheelchair curling and Sledge hockey (called SLED HOCKEY in the USA). However, some of those events are actually broken into sub events. For example, Biathalon is actually 12 events, because it is divided into different events.
> There are standing, sitting and visually impaired participants, depending on type of disability.
> There are individual and pursuit events
* There are events for men and women.
Five events will be contested, sledge hockey may be the most popular. According to the info from the Paralympic Games, the gold medal ice sledge hockey game is already sold out! Why is the sledge hockey sport so popular?? Probably because it is fast paced and full contact. Sledge hockey is basically like ice hockey except the participants sit on a sledge.
McKeever won a 50 km Olympic trial to earn a spot on the six man, five woman Canadian nordic squad that Canada says is it's best ever.
PORT-AU-PRINCE - Haiti faces a generation of amputees after tens of thousands of people lost limbs in the earthquake that struck the island two weeks ago, doctors have warned.
At Port-au-Prince Hospital, doctors have amputated hundreds of arms, legs, hands and feet and said that patients with crush injuries and gangrenous infections were still arriving in large numbers from remote areas of the countryside.
Dr Bruce Mintz, from New Jersey, had personally treated up to 200 amputee patients at the hospital. He said: "Every day they are coming in, more and more of them. We have some of the best surgeons in the world here, but we haven't got the number of nurses we need. The nurses are completely overwhelmed."
The hospital is suffering from a desperate nursing shortage after a wing collapsed in the Jan 12 earthquake, burying 150 nursing students - the entire second and third year classes. THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
"Today’s idea: Technology and the marketplace have transformed the artificial limb from emblem of hurt and loss into paradigm of the “sleek, modern and powerful,” an article says. Prosthetics now provoke envy, and a desire for further tissue removal for self-enhancement. "
Medicine Traumatic physical loss aside, there are many advantages to having your leg amputated, Paul Hochman writes in Fast Company. Ask Hugh Herr, double amputee and director of a “biomechatronics” group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He says he feels sorry for the able-bodied: “It’s actually unfair. As tech advancements in prosthetics come along, amputees can exploit those improvements. They can get upgrades. A person with a natural body can’t.”
That prompts envious exclamations from non-amputees, the article reports, like: “Hey! I want a robot hand.” Amputees, meanwhile, regularly pay out-of-pocket to remove healthy tissue to make room for more powerful technology (and, in the case of double leg amputees, maybe gain a few inches of height in the bargain). “People will get a second amputation — move their amputation up their leg — to get the prosthetic equivalent of a hotter car,” says a prosthetic company representative.
The new prosthetics are expensive, with sales set to boom from a rise in diabetes-related amputations. (Despite the media attention they get, injured war veterans are a tiny segment of the market.) And though the article doesn’t get into it, the cost raises anew the question of the have-nots of technological advance — the amputee victims of the Haitian earthquake, for example. [Fast Company]
I found a great website for disabled travel in New Zealand where nearly all of the trips were designed by a chair user.
"Have a look at the free offers and Spare Seat Travel Deals page as there may be discounted seats available on the days that you are visiting.
Everything (well nearly anyway!) on our Mobility Tours has been tested by Alexia Pickering who herself is confined to a wheel chair. If we get any queries then we ask her to check it out!Click here for a planning sheet to help us design you a holiday that suits your needs.Feel free to ask us any questions.... and enjoy planning your holiday to this beautiful part of the world."
You can even join their affiliate program and make some money off people going to one of the most scenic places on earth.
> Girl goes from paralyzed to world class paralympian
> Wheelchair athlete nominated to President Obama's fitness council
> No Turkish competitors at '10 Paralympics
> WTF! Reindeer with a prosthetic!
> Paralympic Sailing - Josh reports from the in the 2.4m class - Miami
> South Carolina Center for Disability Resources
> New wheelchair sports club in Newcastle England
> Haitian amputees in need of prosthetics
"Aid groups are already raising money and collecting donations of used prosthetic and walking devices to refurbish and send to Haiti. Physicians for Peace collected more than 300 carloads of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and artificial limbs in Norfolk, Va. last weekend. "
> Austin council OK's $500K incentive for HangerAustin Business Journal
In return, the prosthetics and orthotics maker has promised to invest $7.65 million and create more than 300 jobs in the next six years.
> Tongue controlled wheelchair controller.
I found a really great looking website called the Mad Spaz Club!
> Adam Hall finishes two weeks of gruelling World Cup Competition atop the podium, taking a gold in slalom at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing World Cup races in Abtenau, Austria.
> Motivational Webpages and posters for amputees
> Top ten disabled people I don't agree with the list, what about you?
> Sports and Spokes Jan 2010 issue
> 2010 Vancouver Invitational Quad Rugby Tournament
> Aimee Mullins "Racing on Carbon Fiber Legs" Interview
> Accessible travel at Disney
> "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorious still hoping to compete in both Olympics and Paralympics
> Excellent Disabled Travel website
> A brief history of the Deaflympics and Paralympics
It's actually snowing in Orlando, Florida, there's sleet all over my porch!
> 1.6 million dollar government grant to fund Neuroprosthetics
Track Drive All Terrain Wheelchair, it's not Tank Chair but it's still cool!
> 6x6 Wheelchair