If New Metal Legs Let You Run 20 Miles/Hour, Would You Amputate Your Own?

If New Metal Legs Let You Run 20 Miles/Hour, Would You Amputate Your Own?

A patient with below-knee AMI amputation walks up the stairs.

(Photo credit: Matthew Orr, STAT News)


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Tyler Clites
Tyler Clites builds human cyborgs. After graduating from Harvard in 2014 with a B.S. in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, Tyler earned his PhD in 2018 from the Harvard/MIT program in Health Sciences and Technology. As a postdoc in the Biomechatronics Group (Professor Hugh Herr, MIT Media Lab), his current research focuses on the development of novel techniques for limb amputation surgery, with the goal of improving the neural and mechanical interfaces between persons with amputation and their prosthetic devices. He is pursuing a career in academia, where he hopes to explore applications in which surgical and mechatronic design can be leveraged together in new bionic systems for physical rehabilitation and human augmentation.
Therapies for Healthy Aging with Dr. Alexandra Bause
Sabine van Erp / Pixabay

My guest today is Dr. Alexandra Bause, a biologist who has dedicated her career to advancing health, medicine and healthier human lifespans. Dr. Bause co-founded a company called Apollo Health Ventures in 2017. Currently a venture partner at Apollo, she's immersed in the discoveries underway in Apollo’s Venture Lab while the company focuses on assembling a team of investors to support progress. Dr. Bause and Apollo Health Ventures say that biotech is at “an inflection point” and is set to become a driver of important change and economic value.


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Matt Fuchs
Matt Fuchs is the host of the Making Sense of Science podcast and served previously as the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He writes as a contributor to the Washington Post, and his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, WIRED, Nautilus Magazine, Fortune Magazine and TIME Magazine. Follow him @fuchswriter.
This man spent over 70 years in an iron lung. What he was able to accomplish is amazing.

Paul Alexander spent more than 70 years confined to an iron lung after a polio infection left him paralyzed at age 6. Here, Alexander uses a mirror attached to the top of his iron lung to view his surroundings.

Allison Smith / The Guardian

It’s a sight we don’t normally see these days: A man lying prone in a big, metal tube with his head sticking out of one end. But it wasn’t so long ago that this sight was unfortunately much more common.

In the first half of the 20th century, tens of thousands of people each year were infected by polio—a highly contagious virus that attacks nerves in the spinal cord and brainstem. Many people survived polio, but a small percentage of people who did were left permanently paralyzed from the virus, requiring support to help them breathe. This support, known as an “iron lung,” manually pulled oxygen in and out of a person’s lungs by changing the pressure inside the machine.

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Sarah Watts

Sarah Watts is a health and science writer based in Chicago.