Category Archives: Cheetah Flex Foot

Body parts get options: which one will you choose?

Research on making off-the-shelf body parts a reality came out this week in an article at Telegraph.co.uk, “Banks of off-the-shelf body parts could be created for transplants: researcher

“Scientists are perfecting ways of creating bare ‘scaffold’ building blocks of body parts which can then be used as a frame for a patient’s own cells to grow around.”

This brings up an interesting discussion to have. If off-the-shelf body parts become a viable option, does that also mean the option for what type of body part we want is an option? With this option, will there be a divide between those who prefer replacement limbs metal and plastic vs. blood and bone?

You lose an arm you are getting ready for surgery and the surgeon comes in to talk about the options: A) you can have a bionic prosthetic arm or B) you can have an arm similar to the one you have. What do you choose?

The decision is hard, which limb will you choose?

Moreover, why? I did a little anecdotal experiment in my home and asked my 11 yr old which he would prefer. His response was:

“I’d like to be a normal human not a ¾ human robotic” “Like to be more of a human than a robot”

My 4 yr old daughter’s response:

“Bionicle. Cause I want to be strong. I’ve never been strong before”

Now, these are kids and this is anecdotal, but the point is that there is more to it than choosing plastic or bone. It’s a choice of being more than human, “Bionicle”, and being Other, the inhuman. So why do we need a choice? It’s a choice that defines what you want your “human” self to be. We don’t have the same preference on hair, teeth, breasts, etc. We have options. So it seems that when an option for a biologically replicated arm comes about, then we have the right to choose what parts we want or don’t want on our bodies.

With the prosthetic arm, you can have increased capabilities. In addition to these capabilities, a prosthetic arm is customizable. As prosthetic skin options improve so do the aesthetic options. Think Aimee Mullins.

Multiple leg options

You can have a different arm for every occasion.

In the February 2010 issue of Fast Company, they had an article “Super Human”. It was about emergence of envy and sexiness towards those with prosthetics. I was honestly a little bit jealous of Carrie Davis’ sexy black arm in the magazine.

Carrie Davis in Fast Company

My arm will never look as good as hers does, even if I dipped it in latex and even then, not nearly as sexy. A great image captures what it can be to have options with your prosthetics. The article interviews Hugh Herr who has a lot to say about the potential for prosthetics that are not just limited to function, but are opened up to enhanced capabilities and appearance.

Now, the option discussed in the Telegraph.co.uk article. You can have artificial or you can have essentially “your” arm back. It does what you can do now. The capabilities are the same and the options are relatively limited, at least for now.

Looking at the option again, does this expand to a deeper decision? Referring back to my anecdotal example, do we want explicitly to be part robot? I am completely for the option, but like any form of body modification or enhancement, I think people have the right to have this option. What we can take away then is that we are on our way to having options and therefore need to have the right to choose what we want based on our needs and desires. It is handy for a surgeon to have access to parts for replacement, but people should have the option to choose what replacement part they want, or at the very least the option to discuss it with the surgeon beforehand. This is only the one of many questions and issues to discuss.

Leave a comment

Filed under body parts, Cheetah Flex Foot, cosmetic plastic surgery, future, human enhancement, rights, self, technology, Uncategorized

The Pistorius Effect

A lot of discussion has been going around regarding Pistorius. Should he or shouldn’t he be allowed to compete for a spot in the Beijing Olympics? If he makes it, should he or shouldn’t he be allowed to compete. There’s concern over what this will do to sports in general; what kind of message is it sending out to others; and how it could throw off future comparisons within the sport, making some sports records incomparable.

In Art Caplan’s Opinion piece, he discusses Tiger Woods’ laser eye surgery and how he now has better than 20/20 vision. This surgery allows him to continue to compete with vision, not just without glasses or contacts, as with the first surgery, but better than that. Caplan says, “That’s why it cannot just be “advantage” that determines whether someone can use technology to compete. The deciding factor is whether something confers a significant, not a slight advantage.”

But what about the other sports, like Major League Baseball? What about those players who have gotten the Tommy John surgery? Have these individuals been enhanced, do they have an unfair advantage to those that have not have the surgery? Or what about those players who like Tiger Woods have gotten the laser eye surgery, and are able to tell the difference between a curve ball and a fast ball better than others.

Caplan goes on

“We don’t expect to compare the performances of today to those of the ancient Greeks, but we do expect some ability to compare what happened today to be compared with what happened yesterday, a year ago, a decade ago or even 50 years ago.

It may be fascinating to see who can go the fastest on rocket-powered legs or throw a heavy weight the farthest using performance-enhancing drugs, or genetically engineered muscles. But what you have then is an exhibition or a show, not a sport. In some ways, this is what the professional wrestling and no-rules body building already are.

To be a sport you need something approximating a fair playing field, some boundaries on the attributes of those who compete so they are comparable to one another and some ability to compare today’s performance with those in the not-so-distant past.

That is why I am not sure Oscar Pistorius should compete.

He may not have a marked advantage, but his artificial limbs make him too different from those he competes against, and too unlike those who have raced before. It’s not about giving him an opportunity. The issue is that Pistorius risks destroying exactly what he wants to do — compete in a sport.”

The previously mentioned surgeries also offer advantages over both today and yesterday’s competitors. Situations arise where an athlete seriously injures himself and, with modern technology, instead of having to retire they are put back together. By putting them back together, and in some cases, back on the playing field as they were before or even better, technology is playing a part in the sports world. A search for ‘surgery’ on CBSsports.com produced 47,500 results, I acknowledge that not all of these individuals were undergoing corrective or elective surgery to return to the game, but it is still quite a lot.

There is discussion because he has an unfair significant advantage. He’s disabled and he can keep up, maybe not yet qualify, but he can keep up, regardless of his disability. The concern mimics the perspective I had of the American Gladiator. An average guy breaks the boundaries and competes, but hope is that the next competitor will be above average with potential to blow everyone else out of the water. Then, there is the potential for an unfair competition with not everyone being able to get or, rather, need the legs. It’s better to keep the competitors separate, the Paralympians and the Olympians, so they are on a level playing field.

The significant advantage everyone’s examining is still there for those willing to play regardless of the competition in the Olympics. Pistorius and others like him can still compete in the Paralympics with their “advantage”. Will the athletes of the Paralympics also be comparable within the past 50 years? Can the artificial limbs of 50 years ago be comparable to those of today in competition? Is the Paralympic committee ok with all of this lack of comparison or are their records already taking into account the differences in technology?

I have two scenarios; granted there could be more, please share them.

Scenario 1:

Pistorius competes in the Beijing Olympics, he places whatever. Others like him are inspired and also try out. Not guaranteed a position based on sympathy, but on capability, like everyone else. Those who can meet the competition minimums will compete, those who can’t won’t.

Scenario 2:

Pistorius competes in the Beijing Paralympics, he places whatever. Others like him are inspired by his attempt to participate in the Olympics as a result try out for the Paralympics. Not guaranteed a position based on sympathy, but on capability, like everyone else. Those who can meet the competition minimums will compete, those who can’t won’t.

Technological advances are driven by demand. Those who are already amputees are going to want better ones. Those who compete are going to want faster ones. Where will these individuals be competing? I go back to

“It may be fascinating to see who can go the fastest on rocket-powered legs or throw a heavy weight the farthest using performance-enhancing drugs, or genetically engineered muscles. But what you have then is an exhibition or a show, not a sport. In some ways, this is what the professional wrestling and no-rules body building already are.” (Emphasis added)

The Paralympics is an arena to compete in sports, even though they allow Cheetah Flex Foot for competition. Maybe they have an interesting show in their future.

“To be a sport you need something approximating a fair playing field, some boundaries on the attributes of those who compete so they are comparable to one another and some ability to compare today’s performance with those in the not-so-distant past”

The Paralympics offer a fair playing field for those with artificial limbs like Cheetah Flex Foot; where the Olympics offer a fair playing field for those with limbs (oh, and the special external technological advances they have, i.e. special swimsuits, clothing, shoes, and equipment. Which with the demand to be better will also advance)? Knowing that we aren’t going to get rid of artificial limbs like Cheetah Flex Foot, and knowing they are going to make an impact somewhere, which competitive arena will they be allowed to affect and advance?

Leave a comment

Filed under Caplan, Cheetah Flex Foot, Olympics, Paralympics, Pistorius