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Prosthetics

Any one familiar with this blog will know I have been a great fan of Oscar Pistorius for a number of years. He is an inspirational person. A double amputee whose father left the family when he was just a small child [his father has still refused to see him and has never attended any of his runs] and his mother died of cancer when in his early teens. Yet he never let any of this stop him from achieving. This week some shine rubbed off his halo however when he complained that the winner of the 200m, the Brazilian Cardoso Oliveira blades were 4cm longer than his which meant he had a longer stride length suggesting that the competition unfair – called ‘technology doping’. He quickly apologised but drew attention to the fact that the technology involved in prosthetic limbs/eyes and hearing aids is rapidly advancing.

In my book Medical School Interviews All You Need To Know The Knowledge there is a section on what the future holds [to help you answer the common question – what do you think are the most exciting advances in medicine?]. Pages 47-48 discuss the possible replacement of body parts with devices that are superior than those normally found in the human body –the creation of a bionic man is almost certain. The blades allowed in the Paralympics are actually quite primitive by modern standards. Everyday blades nowadays have computerised sensors in the knee joint that detect the terrain and adjust accordingly. Paralympians are not allowed these as some people from developing countries would not be able to afford them. Artificial legs/blades are being developed with their own power source. As yet these are some years away from production but once produced would mean that people with them would be very much faster than a normal person.  Such developments will not only involve doctors but engineers and those from other professions – the future is in teamwork!

Let me finish off with some of my favourite quotes from Oscar Pistorius:

You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

A loser isn’t the person who gets involved and comes last, but it’s the person who does not get involved in the first place’

And finally after his loss of the 200m race;

 ‘It’s easy to be gracious when you win but to be humble when you lose is not as easy.’ 

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