AF1624 From France, joined Jul 2006, 572 posts, RR: 0 Posted (10 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 912 times:
Could some of you answer this very simple question ?
Background: I was watching a very nice BBC documentary about two British soldiers getting wounded in Afghanistan and coming back to the UK to basically get better. One lost vision in both eyes, to get some of it back, and lost his two legs.
The other guy lost both legs and an arm (Tom - the bloke with the most determination and courage I've ever seen - at one point he literary goes "oh yeah well, I don't mind too much about loosing the legs.. and the left arm, oh well, I didn't do much with it before anyway. I'll just find a way round it I guess - he did, he learned how to ski a year after!!).
So basically these guys get some very good prosthetic limbs after their respective operations and they actually do manage to live quite nicely after a while. I think the fact that they were young & strong & determined young men helped a lot.
ANYWAY, the question: at this point in time, how much of our body can be replaced by systems ? I'm not talking about live organs, but mechanical contraptions?
Is there such a thing as a bionic heart? Is there any prosthetic that can interface with the body's nerves? Etc..
Interfacing with nerves is quite complex. I know I read an article about a kid who has locked-in syndrome (that is, his brain is perfectly functional, but he's lost all motor ability). He was participating in an experiment whereby he could form sounds (and, eventually, words) by a device reading his brain waves. So he had to try and control what he was thinking, I suppose, and have that translated into sounds.
There are also ongoing projects into artificial eyes (my cousin worked on one briefly). And I think we have a member here who had surgery to have some sort of artificial hearing device implanted.
"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
DocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 16808 posts, RR: 57 Reply 2, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 817 times:
Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 1): Yes, artificial hearts have been implanted. I think the life extension isn't huge - measured in days or months, typically, rather than years.
There are implantible artificial hearts in development. None have FDA approval yet. Whether survival time will be good with them is unknown. Also, I'm not sure how a machine is supposed to sense the physiologic messengers that would normally cause the heart to increase its rate and contractility (like presence of epinephrine).
There is another class of devices that are called LVAD's. Left Ventricular Assist Devices. They aren't really artificial hearts, per se, but machines to help out a heart that otherwise would not be able to support life. I'm no cardiologist, but IIRC, a common design is to have a balloon in the left ventricle that inflates with each contraction so as to eject more blood through the aorta.
These are temporizing measures. They are meant to keep the patient alive for weeks or months until a suitable heart is available for transplant. In certain cases, patients have completely recovered from conditions previously thought to be fatal. They were thought to be fatal because before the LVAD they were. Who could have known that --if you could keep the patient alive-- the heart could heal from a bad viral myocarditis?
So yes, there are artificial hearts. No, you don't want one.
DocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 16808 posts, RR: 57 Reply 4, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 765 times:
Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 3): You sure? The Wikipedia article lists two that have FDA approval, with supporting documents, far as I can tell.
You're right. It's FDA approved, but the problem is that it hasn't been proven effective in improving any long-term outcome, so it doesn't have a specific indication. In other words, you can get it, but I'm not sure why you'd want it and I'd be shocked if your insurance will pay for it.
The newer "Total Artificial Hearts" that will have longer-term benefit rather than just bridging patients to transplant have not been approved. I was getting my messages crossed.
flightmedic72 From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 26 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 719 times:
There was a time here in Alaska when the closest cardiac surgery unit was in Seattle. Patients with recent myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure were placed on an "intraaortic balloon pump" , a precursor to the left ventricular assist devices common today. The control unit was the size of a patient bed and three times as heavy. Patient would be transferred to Seattle in the cargo bay of a C-141. The units equipment and power requirements far exceeded any thing commercially available.