• Question: I know a load of wounded soldiers some blind some deaf some with no limbs etc.. Do you think that there will be bionic limbs and eyes and eardrums and stuff like that because it must be hell not being able to see or use a hand or something, if they can make them how long into the future do you think they would be made in

    Asked by cosmo to Hannah, Ian, Jono on 27 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Hannah Brotherton

      Hannah Brotherton answered on 27 Jun 2013:

      Hi cosmo,
      DEFINATELY!! we already have bionic legs and arms (prosthetic limbs) and even today in the hearing world of science – we put in what are known as cochlear implants, which are just electrical magnets which are placed inside the ear. We use these if the person’s eardrum doesn’t work.
      But one day we could definitely make a bionic eardrum…..but right npw science is able to grow new parts of our body like ears or fingers – real body parts 😀

      So we might have even skipped using bionic limbs or organs to replace the ones we lost, and we might just be growing new ones.

      How do we do this?
      Doctors can take a special cell from your body called a stemcell….this cell can turn into another cell such as a heart cell or an eyes cell. So if you are able to give it the right environment to grow and the right hormones, you can control what it grows into. Doctors have already grown an ear on someones arm to replace the one she lost from cancer, and Doctors have grown a kidney.

      So if they keep going at this speed, we will be able to grow new body parts in the ext 10 years


      So no terminator type of people in the future, just people who can grow new parts of their body 😛

      BTW it is terrible losing a limb or an eyes, because your brain still thinks you have it. So when a person loses their arm, they will still try and pick up things, because they can feel their hand still there – this is called phantom limb syndrome, and it take s a while for a person to realize they have lost their arm…and this can be quiet upsetting 🙁

    • Photo: Ian Wilson

      Ian Wilson answered on 27 Jun 2013:

      Hey cosmo,

      There have already been some successes with making bionic arms and the like. Check out this article – the teenager it talks about has an arm that he controls using a mobile phone app!


      But I’m guessing that you’re talking about bionics that are controlled by our brains, right? So things that act like real arms and eyes and ears? Well…they’ve managed this as well!

      Have a look at this: http://science.howstuffworks.com/bionic-arm.htm

      The woman in this article lost her arm in a motorcycle crash. But her brain was still sending out signals to the arm – there was just nothing there to receive the signals. When she thought, “Move arm up”, there were no muscles to respond.
      A company has built an arm that is built to have the parts of a normal human arm – so motorised versions of muscles. The nerves in this lady’s arm stump were attached to these motors so when her brain asked her arm to move, the motors moved!

      This is an amazing bit of technology and I think in the next 10 years or so people will be able to make bionic ears too. They can already grow an ear in a petri dish so they need to work out how to hook it up to the brain now! Eyes might be a bit more difficult as they’re such complicated things but I think we’ll get there with those eventually too.



    • Photo: Jono Bone

      Jono Bone answered on 27 Jun 2013:

      Hi cosom,

      Yes bionic limbs are available and are getting better and better. Check out this video of a full bionic man that scientists have made http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21339310