Future Tense

Exciting Work in Prosthetic Limbs: Human Tissue and Legos

Scientists may have discovered a way to make prosthetics act more like human limbs.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, the University of New Mexico, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center found a substance that may best fuse human tissue with prosthetic parts, according to Wired’s Danger Room. While the project is in the early stages, it shows a lot of promise. The synthetic substance created by the scientists mimics nerves in multiple ways: It’s porous, conductive, and flexible. It successfully grows nerve tissue in rats. Early signs suggest that it would not be rejected by the body. But perhaps most importantly from a quality-of-life perspective, it would give patients a far better sense of touch.


That’s today’s practical news in prosthetics. Now for a little whimsy. According to Smart Planet, Max Shepherd has created a prosthetic with full range of motion and can perform complex hand movements. Shepherd’s building blocks for the prosthetic? Legos. The arm can’t bear more than a few pounds in weight, but it’s nevertheless an intriguing project, not the least because of its creative approach to science and medicine. According to Medgadget, Legos are a common inexpensive medium with which scientists can experiment and test new technologies. Yet Shepherd’s robotic arm is one of the most advanced Lego creations they’ve seen.