The Paralympic Games – which begin in London today – are an awesome exhibition of human talent, strength and spirit. But look closer, and you’ll also find a showcase of biomedical progress. When the athletes lined up for the first official Paralympic Games in 1960, the cumbersome gas-powered artificial arms (left) were state-of-the-art prosthetic technology. Since then, vast advancements have boosted the quality of life for people with disabilities of all forms. Today, prosthetics blur the boundary between man and machine. The AMO Arm (right) is a brain-controlled artificial limb that can be used without any invasive surgery. Users don a headset, strap into the device, and use the power of their mind to move the arm. Technology like this, combined with the immense force of will of the Paralympic athletes, is making the world reassess what is and isn’t possible for people with disabilities.
Written by Anthony Lewis
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.