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Climbing 103 Floors On a 'Bionic' Leg 117

Posted by timothy
from the holy-moley! dept.
An anonymous reader writes "4 years ago I read about experimental targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) surgery on Slashdot. 3 years ago I crashed my motorcycle and had my leg amputated — at which time I had TMR done. Today I climbed 103 floors of the Willis Tower in Chicago with a experimental prosthetic using TMR. Thanks, Slashdot."
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Climbing 103 Floors On a 'Bionic' Leg

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  • Good Job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:12AM (#41879437)

    Determination, Strength, and Cool Factor.

    You rock dude, I tip my hat.

  • No, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tfocker4 (2750497) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:16AM (#41879469)
    Thank you anonymous reader. No one could rightfully call you an anonymous coward.
    • How ironic that He's "anonymous reader" on /. but Zac Vawter in the article.

      Nevermind the lack of a name on the submission, this technology is a cool thing for all future amputees.

  • Congrats! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by csumpi (2258986) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:17AM (#41879481)
    Your courage and determination is inspiring. Wish you the best.
  • That must have felt good...

  • Post 911 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:21AM (#41879517) Homepage Journal

    You were in the stairwell of a major landmark building, with a strange device strapped to your body? You must be a terrorist.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      You were in the stairwell of a major landmark building, with a strange device strapped to your body? You must be a terrorist.

      Don't call the number they gave you.

  • Nerdy question... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kergan (780543) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:25AM (#41879547)

    Congrats!

    Out of curiosity if you don't mind the (potentially awkward) question, how does it work/feel when you control a bionic leg? Scanning the wiki article, I sounds like it's basically plugged into the nervous system at where the amputation took place, and you had to retrain the neural system so the bionic limb responds accurately? (Complete with some level of sensory feedback?)

    • by jimshatt (1002452)
      I've always wondered about that too. I guess there isn't much sensory feedback other than yourself seeing your bionic limb movements, which might well be enough. I don't know if you can actually feel your foot touch the ground or anything.
      • My guess would be that you would feel the pressure at the point where the artificial limb is attached to the body when you shift your weight to that side.

        Also, huge props for not giving up to the OP.

        Now, I would be curious to know if medical paid for it, or if he paid out of pocket (or with donors helping out).

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Now, I would be curious to know if medical paid for it, or if he paid out of pocket (or with donors helping out).

          Usually when you agree to be a medical guinea pig, the researchers cover related medical costs and incidentals like transport/meals. They may have even paid him a bit ontop of all that.

    • Re:Nerdy question... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:13AM (#41880597) Homepage Journal

      I don't know about a bionic leg, but I have a bionic lens in my left eye. I had to practice reading to strengthen the focusing muscles I hadn't used in ten years, but the actual workings are just like with a normal 20 year old eye. even though I'm 60..

      I would imagine at first the leg would take a little getting used to, but after a while it will probably be natural to him. Except that leg looks pretty heavy.

      • Slightly off topic, but how good is the current generation of lenses? I'm really, really eager for this to work. I'm 37 and a severe myopic (-11 in contacts, -13.5 in glasses, in case you're wondering). Screw LASIK, I'm planning to get lens implants that correct me to 20/20 and give me youthful vision forever, probably whenever my inability to focus close starts to be really annoying. Right now I can get as close as about six inches, so it really hasn't started to affect my day to day life... but within fif
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          LASIK won't do much good with severe myopia, there would be too much to cut. Right now the CrystaLens is the only accomodating lens, with the rest you'll need reading glasses. In 2023 when the patent runs out on the CrystaLens all implanted lenses will be made like that.

          The choice of surgeon REALLY matters. I was severely nearsighted all my life, and farsighted as well in my forties. The eye with the implant is better than 20/20 now, stats say something like 98% of patients who get that lens have 20/25 or b

          • Thanks for the personal experience. Yes, I am at massive risk of retinal detachment, a fact no ophthalmologist has ever failed to warn me about. And no, I never seriously considered LASIK, for the very good reason you mention.
      • by hawkfish (8978)

        I don't know about a bionic leg, but I have a bionic lens in my left eye. I had to practice reading to strengthen the focusing muscles I hadn't used in ten years, but the actual workings are just like with a normal 20 year old eye. even though I'm 60..

        I would imagine at first the leg would take a little getting used to, but after a while it will probably be natural to him. Except that leg looks pretty heavy.

        Offtopic too, but I am also very interested...

        I have a friend who claims (or rather his opthamologist claims) that the problem with these lenses is that your eye muscles are not strong enough to focus them properly after age 50 or so. That does not sound like your experience, so I am wondering how you did it?

  • Thanks to you sir! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:25AM (#41879551)
    It's wonderful to read such a positive and inspiring story. Bravo!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Contratulations!
    The force IS with you! :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The man has a bionic leg!

    signed: sheldon cooper.

  • by foniksonik (573572) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:28AM (#41879569) Homepage Journal

    Wondering if the data collected from this cyborg (yes dude you're now a cyborg), could also be useful as training data for independent robotics.

    Have you ever thought of open sourcing your leg data :) Could be a huge contribution to OSS robotics. Maybe get other's with prosthetics to contribute as well; arm, hands, feet.

    • As awesome as that would be.. I'm betting that the company that made the leg owns the rights to all the data generated from it.

      • by NEDHead (1651195)

        It may be worse than that. The manufacturer may own the rights to any device or system into which it is installed. This guy is screwed!

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          The manufacturer may own the rights to any device or system into which it is installed. This guy is screwed!

          How is the man with the world's best prosthetic leg in any way screwed?

          • How is the man with the world's best prosthetic leg in any way screwed?

            Well... he has a prosthetic leg, for one.

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              It's better than being in a wheelchair. He was fucked when he lost his leg, not when he got a cybernetic prosthetic.

        • Please get a clue.. Go to www.ric.org before you jump to a stupid and wrong conclusion. The Ric uses parts from all types of manufacturers. You could say they are the first "open source" prosthetics shop.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:19AM (#41880659) Homepage Journal

      Wondering if the data collected from this cyborg (yes dude you're now a cyborg)

      You'd be surprised how many cyborgs there are. There are a lot of folks with artificial joints, pacemakers, cochlear implants, and all sorts of artificial machinery incorporated into their bodies.

      When it's time for you to become a cyborg, not only will resistance be futile, you will be damned glad to be assimilated.

    • I have always figured if something happened to me and I loss an arm or hand and I got a bionic hand that is thought controlled, I would so want to get a USB keyboard/mouse hack added to it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yet more proof that Cybernetics don't make people less human, they make them More Human.

    I, for one, welcome our new Cyborg overlords.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Yet more proof that Cybernetics don't make people less human, they make them More Human. I, for one, welcome our new Cyborg overlords.

      No, it doesn't make one more human, only more functional. I'm not 100% human but I'm more functional than I was before my CrystaLens was implanted.

      Your brain makes you human. So I'm human, only with a non-human device implanted. Oh, and we're not your overlords (Cheney was, look how that turned out. I certainly didn't welcome him!)

      • Out of the night that covers me,
        Black as the pit from pole to pole,
        I thank whatever gods may be
        For my unconquerable soul.

        In the fell clutch of circumstance
        I have not winced nor cried aloud.
        Under the bludgeonings of chance
        My head is bloody, but unbowed.

        Beyond this place of wrath and tears
        Looms but the Horror of the shade,
        And yet the menace of the years
        Finds and shall find me unafraid.

        It matters not how strait the gate,
        How charged with punishments the scroll.
        I am the maste

      • Your brain makes you human.

        Retarded kids are sub-human and don't need rights.

        In my state, the same laws that make it illegal to fuck 12 year olds make it illegal to fuck retards. Every time wording is encountered about someone being too young, it involves a list of things separated by commas. Under X age, or with more than a 4 year age difference, or with reduced mental facilities. They go through every length to make sure screwing retards is the same as screwing very small, possibly pre-pubescent children.

        Retards must be rem

        • Retards must be removed from the gene pool because they have less functional brains and are thus less human. Making it illegal to screw sub-human retards is the best way to do that, according to my state politicians. I see now. "Protecting them" is a good cover story.

          Umm....it's about ability to consent. To the best of our knowledge and ability, people who are protected under such laws lack sufficient faculties to grant consent to the person having sex with them. Ergo, they were raped. It has nothing to do with "purifying" the gene pool, and everything to do with being as humane as possible to people who got a raw deal due to fate/circumstance/birth/whatever.

          • Yes, exactly. So while 19 year olds can have premarital sex in college with their entire dorm and come home pregnant, retards are just like the 12 year old gifted girl that made it into college early by passing her GED and escaping middle school: oh she's a hot college freshman, but if you fuck her you go to jail.

            You see? This is how we ensure 'humane' treatment and 'protect' these people. Make sure nobody can 'take advantage of them'. If they get pregnant, somebody done broke the law.

            Wink wink nud

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          As the father of an educationally handicapped adult daughter I find your attitude highly offensive. Most mental handicaps are not hereditary; my youngest daughter has an IQ of 130. The oldest was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, had it not been for that her IQ may have been higher than her sister's.

          Take your argument a little farther, we shouldn't let anyone with less than a 150 IQ live. E.g, I live, you die. Compared to me, you're a retard. Compared to Stephen Hawking, I'm a retard.

          • Most mental handicaps are not hereditary; my youngest daughter has an IQ of 130. The oldest was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck

            You see? The umbilical cord made her less human! Your brain makes you human and hers is less human-brain-like so she is less human-like!

            PS I highly doubt you're all that smart. I've met smart people, they're really, really fucking smart. Not folks that are brainy and worked out quantum physics and could handle the math. I'm talking about people who look at things and go, "... what?" and just toss out a solution to half the world's problems. Some people just see things.

      • "Your brain makes you human."

        Try telling that to the anti-euthanasia or pro-life crowds. They don't care about the brain: To them, humans are magical because God breathed soul-stuff into them.
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Try telling that to the anti-euthanasia or pro-life crowds.

          As a Christian all I can say is, try telling those poor fools anything. I'm not supposed to make decisions about anyone's life but my own (treat others as you would like to be treated).

          The "God hates fags" crowd is even worse. Those "Christians" obviously don't read their bibles. Gays' sins are no worse than mine or anyone else's.

    • I am hoping that full body prosthesis happens in my lifetime (no organic parts left), just upload me into my shiny new body!

  • by johncalvinyoung (1864782) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:31AM (#41879591) Homepage
    Saw an article about your planned attempt yesterday, happy to see it went well. Congratulations on a serious dose of grit and perseverance. Sorry to hear that it's not yet marketable--any clue how long? Not an amputee myself, but immense respect and sympathy for you guys...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's important to clarify that this was a neural controlled bionic leg. Coming from the Chicago Suburbs, I was greeted pleasantly by this news this morning, as well as by the news that Senator Kirk was able to complete the same feat after his severe stroke in January.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      Although I am not a political supporter of Senator Mark Kirk, I think it's also worth noting that he successfully climbed 37 floors as pat of this same challenge, following rehab from a stroke in January. Congratulations to the senator as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Looks like it works pretty well.

    Can you publish more details?

    Is it running with your balance system or if it has supplemental gyros.

    What improvements are you planning next.
    If you can get control information from the TMR to the leg,
    I wonder if a couple of other signal paths are also possible.
    1) From the other leg to the new one to help coordinate the gait.
    2) From the new leg to you to give you more feedback on what

  • Like many others, I'd like tosay what a fantastic effort you have put into your own recovery. A great example to us all. Well done Sir !

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:53AM (#41879699)

    Man with bionic leg climbs Chicago skyscraper
    Kudos to you for all you have achieved but I gotta admit the news headline had me thinking you were on the outside of the building like a human fly......next challenge maybe?

    • Won't work.. The wind would take you right off.. It isn't called "the windy city" for nothing. Try the David Foster Wallace story (another deceased former Illinoisan) "Mr. Fudgy."

  • This is the best news I've read in a while. Congrats dude. I'm guessing we all know where you now stand in the future eugenics vs cybernetics debate.
  • Man with bionic leg climbs Chicago skyscraper What I pictured in my mind is not quite the reality of it. Think bionic commando meets king kong. Very awesome achievement, I think this proves your in better shape than the majority of the country.
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:12AM (#41879871)

    I'm curious as to how the neural interface works. The CNN article was pretty vague (saying something like "He thinks it and it moves"). I imagine there is a lot more to it than that. Most interfaces I've seen in the past that called themselves a "neural interface" were actually just glorified physical interfaces (controlled by twitching muscles in the upper limb or something like that). Is this thing actually connected to his brain, or at least to his nervous system?

    • Re:Neural interface? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:00AM (#41880385)

      The idea here is that you take all the nerves that would go to the amputated limb, and reroute them to some other muscle group. Then you hook your sensors up to the new muscle group and move the limb based on how that muscle twitches. But, since the nerves have been rewired, you don't have to think about twitching your thigh to move your calf, you just try to move your calf and the prosthetic responds intuitively.

    • The great thing about it is that there is no direct neural interface with electrodes in the muscle. Because anything foreign in the body tends to be corroded over time by the immune system. Dr. Kuiken gave a presentation on his technique at last years CHF festival in Chicago. The idea is for the nerves to fire and to be detected by sensors placed on the skin on order to move. I expect the good doc to perfect a "Hechatonchires" full body prothesis any decade now. Appleseed, here we come.

      • by tylikcat (1578365)

        Dr Kuiken has also done a lot of work with targetted sensory reinervation - neat, neat stuff.

    • What I want to know is how is this powered. Not by raw muscle movement pulling cables I guess. Lithium ion (4 hole chemistry)? Organo-lithide high-capacity (6 hole chemistry) batteries? Beta-voltaic cells with a small piece of radioactive material (20 year battery)?
  • Who's Willis?

  • A shoe question? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:27AM (#41880021)

    Great job man! I was there this weekend too and saw you at the top. I had a question actually about the shoe you use on your other leg. It had a huge sole (looked a lot like a Hoka brand trail shoe). Is that what you wear normally or did you specifically wear that for the stair climb?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No, sir, thank you.

    I have a daughter and try all the time to convey the idea that the world does not exist for us to grab the opportunities; on the contrary, we live in a continuum, being helped and helping (and the latter is the hard part to get, it seems).

    Now you go, amidst a tragedy, and choose to help them make the lives of others better. I want to see my daughter explain the logic of someone screwed making the world a better place.

    Perhaps one does not need legs to walk, just higher ideals.

  • by phrackwulf (589741) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:35AM (#41880847) Homepage

    I'd say you have Dr. Kuiken and the bionic research group at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to Thank. Dr. Kuiken is the best. Period. You can read all about him and his team at www.ric.org. Try not to slashdot em. They are doing some of the most exciting bionic and prosthetic reseach. My ambition is to work for Dr. Kuiken some day.

     

    • He's like the Steve Wozniak of prosthetics.. He's going head to head with Dean Kamen and Deka Labs to build the first humeral prosthetic arm designed specifically to fit a woman.

  • "Stuff that matters" has never been more true! I applaud your nerve in innovating with this prosthetic device, as well as your accomplishment!

    And I have to ask: when you were climbing, did your leg make the ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta sound like Steve Austin's did in the 6 Million Dollar Man show? :-)

  • 5 + 3 = 8. Beauitful underlying symmetry. Somebody better call Astrid Farnsworth at FRINGE Division. We have a potential anomaly at the Tower! Immediate evac and search.

  • Morning radio station here has a good news segment every weekday. Heard your story on it this morning on my drive to work! Congratulations!
  • I once walked down from about the half way point and my legs were sore for three days. Making it to the top is an accomplishment that no one can ever take away.

  • I would think going *down* 103 flights would be far more taxing on the leg and the owner, given the far higher decelerations involved. If this was done, forgive me for the glass half-empty 'tude. But if it was explicitly ruled out as part of the test, they're not done yet.
  • Due to back and shoulder problems my right arm may be near useless when I'm about seventy....BUT....technology may make "amputate and replace with appropriate rewiring" a DESIRABLE option by then.

    Some injured G.I.s already opt to have their damaged limbs removed then move on (literally) using prosthetics.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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