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Extreme Bionics: Sculpting Human Physiology

Move the human story forward! ™ ideaXme

Release Date: 11/25/2020

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Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador interviews Dr. Hugh Herr, Associate Professor MIT Media Lab and head of the Biomechatronics group, MIT Media Lab.

Ira Pastor comments:

Dr. Hugh Herr, is Associate Professor MIT Media Lab and heads the Biomechatronics group at the MIT Media Lab, as well as the Center for Extreme Bionics at MIT, and is creating bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs. In 2011, TIME magazine coined him the “Leader of the Bionic Age” because of his revolutionary work in the emerging field of biomechatronics – technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics. A double amputee himself, Dr Herr is responsible for breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that provide greater mobility and new hope to those with physical disabilities. He is the author and co-author of more than 150 peer-reviewed papers and patents, chronicling the science and technology behind his many innovations. These publications span the scientific fields of biomechanics and biological motion control, as well as the technological innovations of human rehabilitation and augmentation technologies. Dr. Herr’s Biomechatronics group has developed gait-adaptive knee prostheses for transfemoral amputees and variable impedance ankle-foot orthoses for patients suffering from drop foot, a gait pathology caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. He has also designed his own bionic limbs, the world's first bionic lower leg called the BiOM Ankle System. Dr. Herr has received many accolades for his groundbreaking innovations, including the 13th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment; the Prince Salman Award for Disability Research; the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Technology; the 14th Innovator of the Year Award; the 41st Inventor of the Year Award; and the 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research. Dr. Herr's story has been told in a National Geographic film, “Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr.” He has also been featured on CNN and other broadcasters and in many press articles, including The Economist, Discover, and Nature. Dr. Herr earned an undergraduate degree in physics at Millersville University, a master's degree in mechanical engineering at MIT, followed by a PhD in biophysics from Harvard University.

On this episode of ideaXme we will hear from Dr. Herr about: His background - how he developed his passion for rock climbing, for science and technology, and his fateful story about being caught in a blizzard during a climbing trip that lead to his double leg amputations An introduction to the topic of Biomechatronics An overview of the BiOM Ankle System, clinically shown to be the first leg prosthesis to achieve biomechanical and physiological normalization, allowing persons with leg amputation to walk with normal levels of speed and metabolism as if their legs were biological once again An overview of Dr. Herr’s team developing the first autonomous exoskeleton to reduce the metabolic cost of human walking, a goal that has eluded scientists for over a century His work with the Haptics program at DARPA The recent Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announcement that it has invalidated a rule adopted by World Athletics (formerly "IAAF") – the international sports federation governing track & field – which imposed the burden of proof on disabled athletes requiring them to prove that their prostheses do not provide them with an overall advantage against able-bodied athletes

Credits: Ira Pastor, ideaXme ambassador interview. Visit ideaXme www.radioideaxme.com

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