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Man Climbs 103 Stories With a Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Leg

Health & Wellness  (tags: amputee, health, healthcare, mind and body, prosthetic limbs, research, science, society, treatment )

- 1990 days ago -
On Sunday, amputee Zac Vawter climbed 103 stories of the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, using a prosthetic limb he controlled with his thoughts.

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Sue H (7)
Friday November 9, 2012, 8:35 am
How amazing is this?

Kit B (276)
Friday November 9, 2012, 8:52 am
(Image via the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago)

On Sunday, amputee Zac Vawter climbed 103 stories of the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, using a prosthetic limb he controlled with his thoughts.

Many prosthetics work using myoelectric devices, where the limb, such as this bionic hand, moves in response to muscle contractions. But since each muscle contraction can control only one motion, the range of motions is limited. To get more nuanced control of prosthetic limbs, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, which sponsored the indoor climb-a-thon Vawter took part in and outfitted him with the leg, is working on developing thought-controlled prosthetics. To make the leg work, nerves from Vawter’s hamstring were wired to the prosthetic, which was designed by Michael Goldfarb at Vanderbilt University.

The Institute has been providing thought-controlled arms to patients for a few years, according to a release. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is also testing a mind-controlled arm, where a chip implanted in the brain transmits signals to a prosthetic limb.

Mind-controlled doesn’t always mean faster, though: There are leg prosthetics out there that let amputees speed along without needing mental input, most famously Flex-Foot Cheetahs, the lower limb that allowed an amputee to outperform able-legged competition in the 2012 Olympics. That prosthetic is more along the lines of a springy, athletic peg leg. But for the average user, some delicacy of control might be preferable to record-breaking speed.

by Ashley P. Taylor in Health & Medicine | Discover Magazine |

Past Member (0)
Friday November 9, 2012, 9:42 am
Excellent article. Apparently, technology can be beneficial. And, this is the very, very first article that I have ever read of DARPA actually doing anything good for human beings. Generally, they have been much more interested in weapons development.

Lynn D (0)
Saturday November 10, 2012, 2:34 am
Totally amazing! Thanks for article and I wish him luck for even better accomplishments!

. (0)
Saturday November 10, 2012, 3:30 pm
Very interesting

Patricia H. (440)
Saturday November 10, 2012, 6:54 pm
amazing story, noted

Jules W (61)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 10:07 am
Thanks, amazing story. Noted.

Elvira S (82)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 2:33 pm
Truly amazing, although, I doubt this technology will be available for many amputees.

Sam E M (0)
Monday November 12, 2012, 4:29 am
Wonderful technology.
103 stories multiplied by the number of steps in each one makes a huge number of steps to climb and Zac must be very fit - I'd probably be out of breath by the 20th. :)

David C (133)
Monday November 12, 2012, 9:22 am
amazing....the future "science fiction" we all grew up with is becoming "Science Non-fiction".....

Sheri J (16)
Monday November 12, 2012, 1:57 pm
way to go! anything is possible!

Past Member (0)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:01 pm
That's great.

Christopher Fowler (82)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:25 pm
It seems to me that this story should be in Science/Tech news.

This is great, though and could provide hope for amputees.

Past Member (0)
Monday November 12, 2012, 3:51 pm
103 stories, wow! What, no elevator?

Klaus Peters (14)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 5:36 am
This is truely amazing, a great mechanical and electronic piece of engineering, wow, so much hope for amputees. Now, this is not science fiction anymore.
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