BioMedTech: Bionic Arm
This TechXcite: Discover Engineering! module introduces kids to the ways in which engineers design technology to help people with disabilities. They explore the design considerations of developing a prosthetic arm to improve the quality of life for someone who has lost their arm. The module demonstrates ways in which design of assistive technology is interdisciplinary as the module combines mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering concepts. One activity allows students to explore hydraulic and pneumatic systems and teaches them about properties of gases and liquids. Another activity provides students the opportunity to apply hydraulic or pneumatic principles to make a mechanical arm move. The students create a rudimentary touch sensor showing them how electrical engineering may be utilized in the creation of a prosthetic. At the end of this module, each pair of students will have designed and built their own prosthetic arm.
Click the links below to access PDF files of the module:
Additional Resources click items below to expand
This Wikipedia site provides definitions, background information, examples of assistive technology products, and examples of integrating assistive technology components into current products. For example, how can a computer and its peripheral components (ie, mouse, keyboard) be adapted and changed so that it can be used by someone with learning difficulties or visual impairment? This site answers this question and more. Also, included on the site is a list of additional references and reading suggestions.
This article is called "50 Things to Do with a Single Switch". In activities 4 and 5, you use and create your own switch. This list tells you many other things you can do with switches to help people with differing abilities improve the quality of their lives.
This site provides definitions and amazing examples of hydraulics at work. Included are a video of a shovel/excavator truck and a discussion of how hydraulics assist this 28 ton machine quickly and easily move 1 to 1.5 tons of dirt.
The article describes a robotic arm that can be controlled just using the brain. In research performed at Brown University, two people were able to control arms and grasp objects just using their minds. This incredible research could provide bionic arms for people that can be completely controlled by the mind at some point in the future. The second link provides a video about this project and showing it working.
How and why is the famous scientist, Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway involved in bionic arm development? This article answers this question and also includes video and photographs of Kamens bionic arm (the DEKA Arm) and discusses how inspiration becomes invention for Kamen.
Emotional and physically what does it mean to be the first woman to receive a bionic arm? This article from the Washington Post provides insight and a small photograph of Claudia Mitchell, a woman who lost her arm in an accident and is the fourth person, first woman, to receive a bionic arm.
This site includes a fantastic video discussing the prosthetic arm being developed at Johns Hopkins University. The video includes background information and comments by the scientists/engineers who are working on this arm and incredible demonstrations of the arm.
This article discusses current developments of bionic arms and the people/universities and amount of money devoted to future development. A photograph showing a bionic hand that is being developed and tested in a Johns Hopkins University laboratory is also included in this article.
This article discusses the amazing capabilities of the prosthetic arm developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University. How many pounds can their arm lift, can it twist or bend, and what powers it? These questions and more are answered in this article.
What does bionic mean and how has its definition and applications evolved throughout history? This Wikipedia site answers these questions and explores how the term bionic is used in medicine and in politics. Also included in this site are additional helpful references and links.
bi-on-ics, by Josh Fischman, National Geographic, January 2010, p. 35
This 20 page article in National Geographic discusses how bionic devices, such as the bionic arm, interface with the human brain using the nervous system. This interface along with all the motors and movable arm components allow the bionic arm to do incredible things such as grip a baseball. In the article there are many detailed drawings and photographs showing this capability and more.
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