Remember the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man? It was about an astronaut, Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors), who’s in a terrible accident that causes him to lose an eye, an arm, and a leg, so this team of scientists, under the direction of Oscar Goldman (played by Richard Anderson, one of my all-time favorite character actors), decide to replace that which Steve lost with bionics, technology that mimics actual living bodies. During the introduction of the show, we hear Oscar say “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.”
One of this week’s prompts is “If you could invent one thing to make your life easier, what would it be?” That’s simple: a bionic right arm and hand.
My stroke affected the right side of my body. When I woke up in the hospital, I couldn’t even tell that I had a right side of my body. It’s come back for the most part: there’s a pins-and-needles feeling in my leg, arm and the right side of my face, but my leg has come back nicely (a couple of new knees wouid be nice) and I can cope with the numbness in my face, but my arm hasn’t been as lucky. I can, and do, use it, but it tends to have a mind of its own, and while I can hold things with my right hand, I really can’t use it for much, because the fine muscle movements never came back. That has prevented me from using my right hand to write, to hold a guitar pick, to pick things up (say a coin or a piece of paper), to drive (cars are set up for a right-handed driver), and to hold anything that requires delicate handling. I’ve tried bringing it back to life, but it refuses to cooperate. Bionic technology like Steve Austin had would allow me to do all those things, and more.
Which begs the question: why don’t we have the technology?
To a certain extent, we do: we have robotics, as seen below.
And they have done some experiments with bionics, with varying degrees of success. It’s a difficult process, as you might expect, and not just something you can whip up in the basement over the weekend. More importantly, and maybe the biggest hangup: insurance probably won’t cover it, if and when it does become available. I could get into an entire sociopolitical diatribe at this point, but we don’t do that here at The Sound of One Hand Typing…