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U.S. Soldiers Recipients of Newest Prosthetic Technologies 287

Posted by Zonk
from the more-than-meets-the-eye dept.
plaastik writes "The next generation of naturalistic and touch-sensitive artificial limbs are being worn by U.S. Soldiers. Instead of the old velcro strap and cup these new models are fused directly to the bone and are controlled by controlled by the wearer's brain. From the article: 'Future prosthetic arms will fuse to existing bone, eliminating the need for awkward attachment systems. These more naturalistic limbs will use bionic nerves attached to natural nerves to send and receive signals from the brain. Chips embedded in the user's brain will help command artificial-muscle-activated, touch-sensitive, fully articulating hands.'"
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U.S. Soldiers Recipients of Newest Prosthetic Technologies

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  • by Mgns (934567)
    I'm thinking these soldiers won't be playing the piano anytime soon.
  • Innovation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @01:46AM (#15644723) Homepage
    Sadly, nothing sparks innovation and technology like war and disasters.
    • So how much will $6 million get me in terms of these new bionic prosthetic limbs?
      • economies of scale (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nounderscores (246517) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:12AM (#15644900)
        It can become cheap, once enough people go for it. I'm surprised at how many naysayers are on this forum, possibly conditioned to believe that spiderman villains are villainous because they didn't get their superpowers "naturally".

        There may be benefits to complete prosthetic bodies [wikipedia.org] which have capabilities superior to flesh and blood which would make limb regeneration a less preferred alternative.

        In the article [popsci.com] Jeffrey Morgan notes that students at Brown have pierced noses. Limbs and skins impervious to flame, cold, bullets and infection might be the next big thing in body modification [wikipedia.org]. Also, if you break your leg, you can take it down to the shop and get it fixed while the mechanic [wikipedia.org] loans you a courtesy leg to get around in.

        As for concerns to losing your humanity, it's not who you are inside, but what you do that counts. [mac.com]

        Finally, is it just me, or does everyone want to strap on a combination of the Hugh Herr Catapult [popsci.com] and the german built Powerskip mechanical jumping boot [powerskip.de] and go street racing?
        • by NickFortune (613926) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @05:48AM (#15645165) Homepage Journal
          I'm surprised at how many naysayers are on this forum, possibly conditioned to believe that spiderman villains are villainous because they didn't get their superpowers "naturally".

          It's that Otto Octavius I blame. If he'd stop knocking over banks, and work to raise awareness of the potential benefits of his research, the cybernetics field would be a lot further forward, I feel.

          There may be benefits to complete prosthetic bodies which have capabilities superior to flesh and blood

          Are you sure you're not just a Cybus Industries [cybusindustries.net] shill? John Lumic's full body prosthesis process may look impressive, but there are a few bugs in the system I'd want to see addressed before I got myself upgraded. Although his airships are pretty cool.

          As for concerns to losing your humanity, it's not who you are inside, but what you do that counts.

          Never mind the loss of individuality, I'm waiting for a design that can withstand a little man stepping out of a blue box with a flashing light on top. Until he gets that problem licked, I really can't see any future for the design.

        • There may be benefits to complete prosthetic bodies...

          JLike when that 45 year-old, overweight and balding guy who pretends to be a hot teenage chick with a tight ass and smokin' body on yahoo chat shows up to meet you in person, he actually will have the tight ass and smokin' body of a hot teenage chick.
        • hmm, that popsci article was interesting...

          but i worry that comparing a prostetic attachment point to a piercing is a bit oversimplistic.

          piercings and similar are just loops of outer skin, the body dont have to worry about exposing its insides if it fails to properly closing the "wound". therefor its simpler just to let the skin heal around the metal object.

          still, im no doctor so this is just guesswork.
        • >>It can become cheap, once enough people go for it.

          Um, yeah. Once enough people have their hands blown off, the price of the hardware will drop.

          Wonderful......
      • So how much will $6 million get me in terms of these new bionic prosthetic limbs?

        You ever get that weird feeling that you've suddenly become old because the kids you're talking to totally miss your 1970's pop culture reference? [imdb.com]

        For the love of god, somebody mod parent "funny"! I feel like I've turned into my grandmother talking about Benny Goodman!
    • Don't forget lazyness.

      As I frequently reword a well known saying, "Lazyness is the mother of invention." :)

      • As I frequently reword a well known saying, "Lazyness is the mother of invention." :)

        And you're so lazy you had to invent a new spelling for laziness?
         
    • Obligatory Starship Troopers Quote.
    • Re:Innovation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vandan (151516)

      Sadly, nothing sparks innovation and technology like war and disasters.

      Under the current capitalist regime, I agree. I certainly wouldn't expect Dubya to be forking out money for, say, ordinary Americans who have lost limbs and need replacements. Any suggestion of creating some sort of ( I'd better say this quietly ) public health system is met with absolute horror by the Republicans and the ruling class ... and the Democrats too. But of course soldiers are somewhat more useful than ordinary citizens, a

      • Axe public health? Check.

        Except, of course, for creating the largest public health care segment in decades -- the Medicare prescription plan.

        Axe social security? Check.

        Except, of course, that this went down to defeat with even the Republicans in Congress showing moderately strong opposition to it.

        Axe public education? They're most certainly working on it.

        Except, of course, that more money goes into the public education system from the federal government than ever before. Federal spending on pre-university
        • Re:Innovation (Score:3, Informative)

          by vandan (151516)

          Except, of course, for creating the largest public health care segment in decades -- the Medicare prescription plan.

          It depends on which way you measure it. It might be the case that the system has the largest absolute budget, but this is spread across a very large number of people. If you look at the expenditure per capita, a very different picture emerges. The US is practically the worst in the Western world for health care. That's why the most common reason why people are put in gaol ( jail for Yanks )

          • No it's not. There is enough uranium in the world for about 10 years of total energy consumption, and then you have millions of tons of radioactive waste that will be around for millions of years to come. Which company - or civilisation for that matter - is going to be around in millions of years to safeguard the world from this waste? Who will pay to maintain the containment? Not the companies that profited from it, you can be sure of that.

            If you were American, I'd assume that you wrote this unaware of rep

          • That's why the most common reason why people are put in gaol ( jail for Yanks ) is for non-payment of medical bills.

            Don't make stuff up, it tanks the credibility of the rest of what you're saying. Violent offenses make up over 50% of those sentenced to prison as of 2004 [usdoj.gov]. I've never heard of *anyone* going to jail because of non-payment of medical bills; it's incredibly rare as the system has a bunch of "safety nets" built in. There's plenty you can do before jail becomes relevant.

            The US system is what ever

            • It's cheap to have your surgery there because you're opting out of the opportunity to win MILLIONS OF DOLLARS by suing your doctor over some trivial imperfection caused by non-malicious human error.

              It's not the US health care system that is our real mess. It's our legal system.
          • Excuse me if I'm wrong, but you probably believe the government should take care of you. Where care is mandated or the patient can't shop for a good price, I might agree with that. You're not in a position to discuss alternatives if you have a cracked skull and bleeding brain. Other than that though...

            Our problems do not come from a "failure" to socialize medicine. When I was up in Canada, the news was that brain scanners were mostly going to places with powerful politicians. Quebec got an unfair share. M

          • It depends on which way you measure it. It might be the case that the system has the largest absolute budget, but this is spread across a very large number of people. If you look at the expenditure per capita, a very different picture emerges.

            So when you said "axe public health" what you meant was "did not expand public health in the direction or on the scale I would consider ideal"? Such excellent communication skills.

            That's why the most common reason why people are put in gaol ( jail for Yanks ) is
          • We spend lots more money than many nations who are doing better than us. Clearly, lack of money is not the problem.

            We have a teacher's union that makes it impossible to reward the good teachers with better pay or job security. We do salary and layoffs according to seniority.

            When we get money, we buy better athletic equipment. We also buy computers that get broken, go unused, or are used to play "educational" games. Really, what do you expect more money to buy us?

            For older students: We are generally unable t
          • by r00t (33219)
            Seeing as the Kyoto protocol excludes China and India, signing it would just make us export more pollution-causing industry over there. (Not In My Backyard) I'm sure those countries will care deeply about the environment... yeah right.

            We can go longer than 10 years on nuclear even if we keep being stupid. Alternately, we could... get this one... look for more fuel! That's right. We haven't even been looking for fuel.

            Then there is the matter of using waste. Buring our "waste" in Yucca Mountain is terrib

          • That's why the most common reason why people are put in gaol ( jail for Yanks ) is for non-payment of medical bills.

            Nobody goes to jail in the US for non-payment of bills. I'd ask you for a citation to back your statistic up, but there's no need since it's completely made up.

            -h-
  • We can rebuild him (Score:5, Informative)

    by Skidge (316075) * on Sunday July 02, 2006 @02:12AM (#15644777) Homepage
    According to The Inflation Calculator [westegg.com]:

    What cost $6,000,000 in 1974 would cost $24,945,762.42 in 2005.

    It's not cheap being a . [imdb.com]
    • by Skidge (316075) *
      I really did preview that one. Twice. ;)

      That should read "It's not cheap being a bionic man [imdb.com]."
    • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @02:39AM (#15644834)
      I wonder if proper body and vehicle armor is cheaper than prosthetics, multiple surgeries, psychological counseling, and a lifetime of subsequent health problems. I also wonder what these soldiers lost their limbs for. Iraq and Afghanistan aren't exactly basions of freedom, are they? Yes, they'll be peaceful one day in the future, as will the entire earth when the sun runs out of hydrogen. I do realize that every time a flower blooms in Iraq it's because of American resolve and committment, while none of the death and destruction is our fault, but still, one wonders what the hell it's all for.
      • by timeOday (582209)

        I wonder if proper body and vehicle armor is cheaper than prosthetics, multiple surgeries, psychological counseling, and a lifetime of subsequent health problems.

        If only it were so easy. Up-armoring the Humvees is no miracle cure, in fact it may hurt more than it helps [freerepublic.com].

        Besides, with the quality of explosives the other side is using, they can kill an M1! [telegraph.co.uk] Charges that cut through a main battle tank are not going to be slowed down by any amount of Humvee up-armoring.

        Speaking of which, I've wondered why

      • I wonder if proper body and vehicle armor is cheaper than prosthetics, multiple surgeries, psychological counseling, and a lifetime of subsequent health problems. I also wonder what these soldiers lost their limbs for.

        While I agree with your antiwar tone, it's because of proper body and vehicle armor that the number of soldiers losing their limbs (instead of their lives) is increasing steadily. There is no body armor technology capable of keeping a soldier's foot from being destroyed by an IED mine, his ha
  • by onlysolution (941392) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @02:14AM (#15644782)
    The summary makes it sound like prosthetics fused to the bone and controlled by the nervous impulses are here, but they certainly are not yet. Likewise haven't given superadvanced prosthetics to any wounded soliders yet either. As pointed out by the article, victims of the current war are not getting more advanced than advanced predictive prosthetics like the C-leg, which pretty much represent the latest in production prosthetic technology.
    Don't get to excited yet people, prosthetics like the summary imagines are still a long ways off.
  • by monkeySauce (562927) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @02:15AM (#15644787) Journal
    "Chips embedded in the user's brain will help command artificial-muscle-activated, touch-sensitive, fully articulating hands."

    Hope they get the programming right on those chips!

    Hey doc, sometimes when I'm typing with these artificial hands, I seem to get stuck in a loop! Is it true these are controlled by controlled by controlled by...

    Maybe they should also embed a usb socket into the back of the user's head to allow firmware upgrades.
  • Cost? (Score:5, Funny)

    by leipzig3 (528671) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @02:29AM (#15644808)
    This sounds like great technology but what is this going to cost? An arm and a leg?

    Thank you, I'll be here until Wednesday. Please tip your waitress.

  • by jpetts (208163) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:06AM (#15644893)
    and are controlled by controlled by the wearer's brain

    Well, looks like the editors need prosthetic brains...
  • getting your HMO to pay for one.
  • by TomRitchford (177931) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:23AM (#15644916) Homepage
    The soldiers get exciting new limbs instead of the boring old ones they had before.

    The Iraqis get killed and get to get their country destroyed.

    And we the taxpayers get to piss away a trillion dollars. Did you need that money? You would have just wasted it selfishly on yourself!

    I guess the only people who lose are Halliburton because they actually have to do some work. No wonder they mark up all their services 100%, who can blame them? What patriots!
  • by fbg111 (529550) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:34AM (#15644936)
    Note to editors, keep your tenses consistent. The headline and abstract use both present and future tense, and without reading the article I can't tell whether these technologies are actually in use now, or will be in the future. It seems like just a few months ago that monkeys were controlling robotic arms with just their brainwaves, has technology advanced so quickly that we can now physically and neurologically integrate electronic machines with people? The article confuses that crucial point.

    "U.S. Soldiers Recipients of Newest Prosthetic Technologies
    The next generation of naturalistic and touch-sensitive artificial limbs are being worn by U.S. Soldiers. Instead of the old velcro strap and cup these new models are fused directly to the bone and are controlled by the wearer's brain. From the article: 'Future prosthetic arms will fuse to existing bone, eliminating the need for awkward attachment systems. These more naturalistic limbs will use bionic nerves attached to natural nerves to send and receive signals from the brain. Chips embedded in the user's brain will help command artificial-muscle-activated, touch-sensitive, fully articulating hands.'"
  • Phantom Limbs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gareth.fletcher (855305) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:47AM (#15644969)
    It will be interesting to see a study on the brain plasticity [wikipedia.org] of amputees fitted with these new prosthetics, similar to those done on the adult auditory map of hearing impaired patients (e.g. after sudden unilateral hearing loss).

    Do the phantom [brynmawr.edu] sensations, usually experienced by amputees, disappear after these C-legs have been fitted?
  • by DavidV (167283) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @04:22AM (#15645046)
    I lost my left hand, severed below the elbow. I have been keeping an eye on advances prosthetics but thought it would be very difficult for me to control as my hand feels like it's in a fixed position so it would be hard to coordinate the output of my nerves without any feedback. The big advance talked about here is the signal coming back to the brain to make the limb feel like part of the person rather than something just hanging off, which is what prosthetics feel like to me. I have one but I never use it for this reason. Bring on the feedback!

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