Print 21 comment(s) - last by Galcobar.. on Mar 24 at 1:48 AM

  (Source: LucasFilm Ltd.)
Elective amputation is very groundbreaking, controversial

It's many people's worse nightmare -- a crippling car accident.  Describes Nicola Wilding, 35, "Twelve years ago on the motorway coming back from Brighton (UK) I had a crash.  In the impact I brought my arm up to protect my head and it's pulled the nerves and the shoulder back. I broke the bones straight across - compound fractures I think here and here."

I. Robbed of Her Freedom

Suddenly the UK native found her life drastically changed as her arm was crippled, even though the flesh and bone healed under careful medical care.  Ms. Wilding elected for the most advanced treatment at the time, implanting nerve-containing chunks of flesh taken from her leg and arm into her should-to-arm connecting region, dubbed the brachial plexus.

Brachial Plexus
The brachial plexus is the shoulder region containing the brain's sensitive "connector cable"
to the arm and hand. [Image Source: SPL]

The approach worked -- almost.  But the most vital tool of mankind -- its hands -- never responded even as she regained movement.  She tells BBC News in an interview, "My doctors are like 'That's all we can do for you.'  It's the everyday things. If you go to butter toast you can't hold it. I've used my teeth to open bottles and chipped some teeth. Taking my clothes off, having a shower. I have to have meals prepared for me - I can't peel a potato as much as I've tried. I'd probably end up injuring myself.   There are things I just can't do."

Nicola Wilding
Nicola Wilding, crash victim, talks with Viennese surgeon Oskar Aszmann, an expert in bionics and pioneer in elective amputation. [Image Source: BBC News]

But the crash victim's suffering may finally be at an end thanks to a wild medical decision that's raising a lively round of bioethics debate -- elective amputation.

II. Elective Amputation, a Very New Procedure, Helped Similar Victims

Elective amputation involves cutting of a damaged body part to install a cybernetic solution.  A true digital age solution, the doctors leverage robotic hands, with sensors monitoring nerves in the lower arm which allow the patient to relearn use and perform complex tasks, regaining their freedom.

Some in the medical and bioethics field have voiced concerned about the procedure given its permanent nature and the chance that a more organic solution could later be found.  But for the handful of patients who have experienced it, they are all elated to regain basic hand use.

The first ever patient to receive the procedure was named Patrick.  After being electrocuted at work he lost his fingers.  A second elective amputee came in 2011 in a case similar to Ms. Wilding's.  Named Milo, the man was vacationing in his native homeland of Serbia when his motorcycle skidded into a lamppost damaging his brachial plexus.  Nerve replacement (such as Ms. Wilding received) combined with elective amputation gave him movement.

Both men were able to perform, after a bit of training, relatively complex tasks, such as holding a glass or tieing their shoes.  That's thanks to German prosthesis maker Otto Bock (makers of the "Michelangelo" hand) and the UK's Touch Bionics (maker of the  "i-Limb"), whose bionic hands deliver force carefully enough not to break objects, but sufficient to prevent them from slipping lose.

Michelangelo hand
Otto Bock's "Michelangelo" bionic hand offers unprecedented control.
[Image Source: Popular Science]

III. A New Hand for Nicola

Inspired by hearing about Milo's story, Ms. Wilding visited Dr. Oskar Aszmann, the Vienna, Austria based surgeon who performed the procedure on Milo.  Dr. Aszmann recalls the meeting, remembering that he was careful to state the risk.

"These are risky decisions - they are irreversible. Once the extremity is gone it's gone, you cannot put it back on again," he comments, "(But) she's already ready to go. She says she wants to have a functional hand and arm, so I think for her there's no question in her mind."

"What we have to figure out is what she still needs to qualify for an elective amputation and I think for that she will need to come to Vienna for us to conduct thorough tests."

The final step is for Ms. Wilding to go through tests to demonstrate that her lower arm nerves were sufficiently responsive to power the bionic hand.  If they're successful the path is cleared for Ms. Wilding to become only the third hand damage victim to elect amputation and bionic replacement.

Source: BBC News

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By Hafgrim on 3/22/2012 10:22:05 AM , Rating: 2
I have always wanted to find a one handed controler for PS3 or Xbox for a friend of mine
who had a stroke and lost the use of his right hand. He was an avid gamer before the stroke
and now I just feel hes lost one of his favorite hobbies for no good reason. A single handed double stick controller could be modded up fairly easily with a hand gun grip style controller with one thumb stick on top and another stick on the opposite side underneath to use with the other fingers.

If anyone has heard of such a thing the only thing i was able to find was something called
x gear that has strange little stick on arms that stick to the buttons to help you reach buttons but its pretty lame & donst really help him. Hopefully someone has seen something and can reply. =)


By Hafgrim on 3/22/2012 10:39:12 AM , Rating: 3
Well i'll be darned I just tried to look up the junky old xgear whatever it was called add-ons and found this as a result. =)

Hope it helps any gamers out who've suffered the loss of a limb. Tho im not sure if it ergonomic enough to make you a competitive Mortal Kombat champ like he was but its a start. ^^

By Argon18 on 3/22/2012 3:10:08 PM , Rating: 1
So let me get this straight. Not to be a dick, but you claim you've "always wanted to help your friend", but it wasn't until sometime between 10:22 am and 10:29 am today, that you bothered to do a google search? lol.

By DanNeely on 3/22/2012 8:07:56 PM , Rating: 2
How often do you spontaneously search for items you wanted but couldn't find in the past? Most people don't do that again frequently unless reminded by something.

By GuinnessKMF on 3/22/2012 11:13:40 PM , Rating: 2
Or he searched some time ago without success and this article caused him to try again and he got different results. Even if he always wanted to help his friend, no one would expect him to scour the internet twice a day to make sure there weren't any updates.

By redbone75 on 3/23/2012 2:22:51 PM , Rating: 1
Not to be a dick, but...

There are no "but's."

By Hakuryu on 3/22/2012 10:41:16 AM , Rating: 2
Haven't heard of a one-handed controller, but I did hear about a player who had a stroke and now plays with one hand; and apparently is really good. Maybe your friend could emulate this guy's style to play.

By amagriva on 3/23/2012 4:35:00 PM , Rating: 5
the redneck is back...Were you refering to certain jobs your redneck mummy did to you and your cousins all toghether in his big bed?

By Manch on 3/22/2012 11:39:28 AM , Rating: 3
I did a set up for a friend using foot pedals to replace the mouse buttons. Lost his fingers to his band saw. They put them back on but they're for decoration now. He tried going lefty but he couldnt get use to it.

Frag Pro has a mouse/grip controller for PS3/PC. Maybe you can modify that?

By TSS on 3/22/2012 6:18:37 PM , Rating: 2

The future way of things :) i've got the cheap one, my dad gave it to me to try out, and it's neat actually doing stuff with your mind. While it doesn't work on thoughts, it works on "mind states", being able to measure if you're relaxed or concentrating. If somebody has lost a extremity it might be worth looking into the more expensive versions, as well as keeping track of the rapid developments in the field. It's still basic, but at the speed with which it's developing it won't be 10 years before we can accurately control a 1st person shooter character.

I have found though, that it does not work on everybody. It might be due to my ADD or asperger, but i can litteraly hold my concentration while that thing says i've got no concentration at all. I can never keep my relaxed state high, either. This is in stark contrast to my dad, who can move the lines on a chart of concentration/meditation with his mind on command.

It baffled me when i asked to "keep concentration at 100%", saw my dad focus, the line shoot up and stay there. Mostly because i can't do that, no matter how hard i concentrate.

By parge on 3/22/2012 11:52:14 AM , Rating: 2
You could use something like the Razor Naga MMO mouse.

All the buttons are remappable, and the ones on the side could easily be used for movement etc.

By darkhawk1980 on 3/22/2012 12:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just an engineer, but this doesn't seem like a hard problem to solve. Get one of the Wii 'gun' type controllers, and then mod in the guts from an XBox controller. Yeah, a dremel and quite a bit of work might be involved, but I'd be willing to bet it would work quite well once you get to it.

Sadly, I don't have a need, nor does anyone I know, for something like this. But I can see how it'd be a very desirable thing for those with the problem.

By tigz1218 on 3/22/2012 1:50:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ummmm Kinect people? Seems like a logical solution to me. Even though your avatar's appearance might be a bit short-handed compared to others.

Couldn't resist.

By Devilboy1313 on 3/22/2012 4:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
Won't work for a console ... but how about a joystick. 3 axis, 2 easy access buttons, maybe 2 hats or 1 hat & 2/4 buttons. Should be able to map each button to what's needed.

Just a though.

By room200 on 3/22/2012 12:05:24 PM , Rating: 2
Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.

RE: Noooo
By ppardee on 3/22/2012 3:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Are you on coke? Bionic hands are MUCH better!

RE: Noooo
By Galcobar on 3/24/2012 1:48:12 AM , Rating: 2
Tell that to Howard Wolowitz:

She never asked for this.
By FaceMaster on 3/22/2012 4:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
Once again the Deus Ex series has an unnerving habit of predicting the future (or at least, the direction we're headed. People favouring bionic arms over real ones?!)

RE: She never asked for this.
By CowKing on 3/22/2012 5:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's more like favoring bionic limbs over broken ones, but yeah, Deus Ex popped into my head as well.

RE: She never asked for this.
By Paj on 3/23/2012 8:14:23 AM , Rating: 2
Me too, I had a Praxis kit joke ready to go.

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