The BBC News website is currently exploring the exciting world of bionics. Over the next few weeks they will be examining the huge advances that have been made in the bionics field and exactly how these advances impact on injured people’s lives. Intelligent devices are being designed and developed which, for the first time, closely replicate and behave like human limbs. Computer aided design technology, lighter materials and funded research have all made this possible.
One university in America has designed a bionic arm with such dexterity that you might be forgiven for mistaking it for a natural arm. It has independent finger movement and responds to the user’s muscles in their residual limb. Another invention, known as the Genium, was launched in the UK at the end of 2011. This is a bionic leg, which is able to anticipate and respond to climbing stairs, different walking speeds and even walking backwards. It has an on board computer which controls the leg’s movements using hydraulic valves as well as making use of similar technologies to those found in a Wii remote control.
Much of this research has been fuelled by the increasing number of injured soldiers returning from tours of duties. These innovative devices are an exciting prospect for amputees injured either in the course of duty or as a result of negligence and who are bringing military compensation claims as well the thousands of people with diabetes who have amputations every year.