Second Draft

Possible titles:

How Neuro-Prosthetics Will Change Many Lives.

Neuro-Prosthetics, Making Life Simple Again

Neuro-Prosthetics, Make Walking Look Easy

Everyday of summer vacation was another day for Eric to go out and experience the wilderness of the world. There he was, a young ten-year-old boy playing a great game of soccer with his neighbourhood friends. However something happened that day that changed his life forever. He missed a wide-open net! All of the young kids started laughing and making fun of him, so Eric ran to get the ball that way he wouldn’t be able to hear them. He was running with tears of embarrassment in his eyes and idea’s of revenge on his mind that he completely forgot to look both ways while he was running to get the ball. Suddenly that’s when it all happened. The only thing you heard from a 3-block radius was the sound of tires skidding, as the civic tried to stop in time, but it was too late. Bam! Eric was tossed over the hood of the car and ended up on the road behind it. No one knew how to react not even the driver of the car. In fact all he did was call the ambulance and drive off. By the time Eric got to the hospital the surgeon sat with his parents and told him that it would be nearly impossible to fix the leg, and that we would need to be amputated. Ever since that day, Eric has been taking life one limp at a time.

Eric isn’t a made up character; he is my childhood friend who lost his leg. You can call this my “reason of interest” but it is much more than that. It became my only goal in life, we grew up together and since I was young I would always want to make him feel the same as he did before the incident. When it came to playing sports it was nearly impossible to hide the reality, and he would just sit on a chair and watch us play. I told him that I would make his life easy again, that I will help him play like he used to. To this day I will never go back on that promise, he is what my whole life is about. My studies in engineering are all to help him, he’s my best friend to this day and he always tells me “Mass it’s ok I’m used to it now its been 10 years” I look at him smile and tell him you know that won’t change anything. It is all still in research and there have been a few trials in recent months, but when I finish my education their will be results and their will be a new technology on the market for prosthetic, I guarantee it.

The work of a mechanical engineer is to innovate the world and making it easier to live. Many people become engineers because “they make good money” but there are many engineers that just want to help humanity. This doesn’t mean that any human should be left out. There have been many recent projects that have started to create neuro-prosthetic limbs, which will target amputees and people that are paralyzed. The importance is quite obvious and motive is quite clear, they want to make a device that will make you feel like nothing ever happened. As if that accident that made you lose a limb never happened. To live your life as you’ve always known to live it without any discomfort, or change in your lifestyle.

I won’t go into so much detail about how it works, because to understand the technology without an engineering degree would be like giving and 8 year old kid a calculus problem. The way they work is actually quite simple. The prosthetic will be electrically powered and attached to small “microchips” that are planted on the brain. The microchips are directly wired to the prosthetic under the skin, this will make the wires look like veins, so to the brain there is no confusion.”The basic idea is that the electrodes would pick up signals from neurons”(Jay p2) sending impulse to the brain as our nervous system does already. Isn’t that what we would all like, for it to look, act and feel natural?

Some people might not see the importance in the research, because they don’t know an amputee or aren’t an amputee. How ever the world function on fear and security. Many people on this planet will follow steps and ways of doing things because they are scared to just go out in the world and do something on their own, because it might lead to consequences. I believe that the ability to always have fully functioning limbs, even after being in a plane crash, is something that everyone would want. These neuro-prosthetic will get rid of the fear of loosing a limb, because it will make life seem as if you never lost it in the first place. This will lead people to believe that they can do all those crazy things they always wanted to do, but where always stopping themselves because of the fear of getting hurt.

People might be worried that society will look and treat them differently if they see a mechanical limb attached to their body. That kids will stop what they are doing and say, “look mommy a robot”. This is not the case, “The future prosthetic arm will be covered by a sensitive polymer skin,”(Polytech p3) which has been engineered to feel and look exactly as skin does. This will literally be like a sleeve that you just slip on in the morning. Which would be as tedious as putting your socks on. Of course the only time you would be put on the spot about it would be at airport security, but I don’t think they will ask you to take off your arm before walking trough the detectors.

For the past few weeks I have been trying to get interviews with a few medical engineers or prosthetic specialists. How ever my attempts have always resulted in either no answer or they tell me that they are too busy to answer questions for some cegep student. I then decided to interview an amputee and talk about what he went through and if he knows about neuro-prosthetic and what is his opinion on the technology. The man’s name is Gregory and he had lost his arm in a work accident. Gregory is a retired sheet metal worker who lost his arm when he was 45, he had been working for that company for 20 years at the time. He didn’t want to go into too much detail but he told me that the emergency stop on the machine had failed to work. He felt that it was the only positive that came out of the whole thing, because he was able to get 2 million dollars from the company since it was their fault. Gregory now likes to spend his days at the hospital helping other amputee’s with their trauma and teaching them how to use their prosthetic arm. More specifically he is an orderly for the amputee division in the hospital.

Interviewing Gregory was a great idea, because he was very kind and he opened up to me, as if I’ve known him forever. He told me it did affect his marriage but only because he let it, he started treating his wife differently because he was always depressed and angry. However once he got his life back on track he told me there wasn’t a day that went by that he wouldn’t apologize for being the monster that he was and that he loved her for staying with him during that period. When I asked him if he would like to do what he used to be able to do, he gave me this look, and then he smiled. He told me that their isn’t a day that goes by that he wouldn’t like to be back in the shop working with the metal. He misses the smell of oils burning, the noise of metal clinging and of course the ability to use both hands. When I mentioned neuro prosthetics, he interrupted me halfway trough my question and told me that he is waiting, waiting for the day they call him to tell him he has been accepted for trials. He told me that it might be the only chance he has in getting his old life back.

After having interviewed Gregory I could say that an amputee goes trough a huge change in their life, it is almost as if they have been reborn, yet with a deficiency. They need to learn to live a completely different life then the one they used to. Most amputee’s sadly become unemployed because they can no longer perform as they used to. This how ever is something that can be change with neuro prosthetics. With this technology nothing has to change, they will simply be modified instead of reborn. From what Gregory told me he would’ve preferred that much more.

For Eric, Gregory and many others like them neuro-prosthetics is the key to happiness. It is simply the only way that they can do as they have always done. Yet it has not been fully developed and what I don’t understand is; why not? The technology to make it possible is there, so what’s stopping engineers from creating it? Money and funding is the answer. Since their are slightly more than 10 million amputee’s, they get neglected most of the time. This means that not many donations are being made for amputee’s, so the needs to advance can’t be purchased. The miracle that this branch of medical research needs is a man of high value to become an amputee. Then he will personally fund the advancements and a working neuro-prosthetic can come about sooner then expected.

Citations:

Whitacre, Jay. “Neuro-prosthetic Implants Powered by Electrode Arrays.” Web. 20 Apr. 2015.<http://ezproxy.dawsoncollege.qc.ca:2207/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=9413b332-3032-40cf-9d9f-7c204031f789%40sessionmgr198&vid=3&hid=113&gt;.

“Accessibility Links.” Bionic Arm. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://cnp.epfl.ch/op/edit/page-87258.html&gt;.

Leblanc, Maurice. “Amputee Statistics.” Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <https://web.stanford.edu/class/engr110/2011/LeBlanc-03a.pdf&gt;.

2 comments

  1. marrabyssagestime · April 26, 2015

    I really enjoyed reading your feature article for many reasons. In class, we always talk about why this article should be read and I think you made it clear why people should care. The connection you made between neuro-prosthetics and your friend made it even more convincing. Personally I was hook after reading your first scene. When you wrote “However something happened that day that changed his life forever” it was like a little suspense that made me want to keep reading. I also found interesting the way you broke down the more technique aspects of creating a neuro- prosthetic arm. The use of imagery, like comparing the wires to veins for example, made a complicated process seem possible and realistic. Overall I think your feature is inspiring because of your personal implications but also because the emphasis put on developing a better world. One sentence that really capture this is idea is “The work of a mechanical engineer is to innovate the world and make it easier to live in”.

    I thought that your feature had a nice flow. Every time you spoke of the more technical aspects you made a link back to your friend’s story or Gregory’s, which made the information relevant. I would suggest shorting Gregory’s familial relationship because it could lead to another broader theme that you do not really expand on. However, I did like that you touch on different themes such as happiness, fear and genuine human interest. Also your style of writing is clear and engaging. By that I mean that I felt like you answered most of the questions I had before I even asked. I even “awn” and smiled, especially when you wrote “look mommy a robot”. I think that if your gaol was to evoke emotions in people and to get them think about the necessity of neuro-prosthetics, you succeeded. I truly hope they develop the technology because it seems possible and useful.

    Like

  2. commanderjeffgandell · April 30, 2015

    Massimo, I like that you have a definite and clear purpose in this article: to make people aware that funding for neuro-prosthetics is important. And, you have a definite audience: the general population who may not know much about this topic. Having a definite purpose and a definite audience will help you adopt the write tone in your article. Also, this is better than previous work you’ve handed in this semester. You working more conscientiously, which will go a lot way.

    But, as it stands, this still falls below what’s expected of you for this assignment. What stands out most is that you’ve barely included any research into this. You need some facts and research to back this up. You say money and funding is the answer. Okay. So, where does money for neuro-prosthetics come from? Private industries? Or, are there charitable donations? How would the world go about securing more money for neuro-prosthetics? You talked about Cancer research in your presentation. What are the comparable numbers for cancer research and this type of research?

    You can also give us more information about neuro-prosthetics. You’re a mechanical engineering student. You understand these things better than most people. You start to do this when you explain a little how it works, and the paragraph about the skin. This is good. We need more information about what this technology actually looks and feels like, a little about how it works. The challenge is to write it in a way that is easy for everyone to understand. I think you’re capable of doing that well.

    I think you can open this up to broader topics. You talk about the work of a mechanical engineer: to make it easier to live in the world. Interesting. Can you expand on this? is this something you learn in school? In what other ways are mechanical engineers making it easier to live? How can you get us to understand Why mechanical engineering is helpful to the world?

    At parts, you’re guilty of not really thinking about what you’re writing enough. I like that you talk about fear, which is a broader concept. But what you say doesn’t really make sense. Are you saying people won’t be scared to do dangerous things because it won’t be such a big deal to get a prosthetic limb? Do you really believe this?

    Finally, you haven’t incorporated your interview properly. The point of an interview is to get direct quotes. Not to summarize an entire story that someone else told you. You need to choose some powerful lines from your interview, and incorporate them at appropriate places in your paper. All your material from your interview should be in the same place.

    As I said, this is an improvement over your previous work, and I like some of what you’re doing. You’re moving in the right direction. But, you can give us much more of an insider’s perspective on this topic. You can go into much more precise detail about how mechanical engineers improve the world. You can go into more detail into how this technology works. And you can give us a much greater sense of how this is a neglected area of research, but shouldn’t be. This will involve doing significantly more research. You’re scratching the surface here. Now time to roll up your sleeves and say something more substantial. If you can do that, I’m confident you can produce a very good final draft.

    Like

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