I was watching the news yesterday and there was an article about a new bionic arm made for this boy who was born without an arm. This ties in to the discussion we had the other day in class regarding medical advances. Although I was opposed to the idea of robots in the household setting that would help patients recuperate but I was all for robots in hospitals assisting in surgery, this seems to be a type of robot intervention that I would encourage. I am studying biomedical engineering and plan to immerse myself in the new medical technologies, specifically prosthetic limbs or the devices used in hospitals.
Engineering students at the University of Central Florida were able to 3-D print a fully functioning bionic arm. The six-year-old boy was able to move the fingers, wave to the camera, hold a football, etc. The most surprising aspect of this article was the fact that the arm only cost $350 as opposed to the roughly $40,000 for other prosthetic arms. The advances that have been made in the medical field are astounding.
This arm, a type of robot, would be completely controlled by this boy, cannot talk back to the boy, and has become part of the boy’s body. This may not seem like the typical robot that we are used to but has robotic features. I feel as though a nurse should be helping a patient with physical therapy rather than a robot but a nurse cannot take the place of a boy’s arm.
Perhaps instead of scientists creating a robot that can tell a human to raise his arm everyday to help the arm get better, the scientists should be creating a new arm. I think the technology and ideas are all there, they just have to be implemented correctly and put to better use.
The article stressed the cost of the arm for this boy. I find it amazing that this only cost $350. This goes to show how far medical advances have already come and will continue to advance. This makes me think of how a 4-gig USB flash drive might have cost $30 five years ago and might only cost $3 now.
Since I was opposed to the idea of robots in the household, this is an exception I am willing to make. I would not want to listen to a robot telling me to pick up a glass of water but if I have control over the robot, such as if I had a robotic arm like this boy, and was able to use my brain and muscles to control the robotic arm and pick up the glass of water on my own, that is a different story. Medical technology is fascinating when implemented correctly, such as in this instance.
I wonder what the next step will be and how easily accessible these devices will be made to the public as the price continues to fall. Hopefully I will be able to partake in some of this research in the near future.
Here is a link to the article, very cool! http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/ucf-students-design-printed-bionic-arm-boy-24721248