The bionic human* and biomedical technologies
Secondary 3 students at the Saint-Jean-Eudes day school in Quebec City, Jade Chénard-Roy and Myriam Laforest-Routhier, won this year’s first prize at a science exhibition for “The Bionic Man Comes to Life!” Their project concerned prosthetics that are solely thought-activated and may soon become a reality.
For 15 years, leading academic institutions and private businesses have been researching bionic humans. Thanks to electronics and medicine, thousands of vision, hearing or physically-impaired people can now see, hear or move like everyone else.
Today, Victhom, a company that employs over 20 engineers in Quebec City, has already created a leg with a motorised knee joint and is studying a feet stimulation system for people who have difficulty walking.
In Montreal, the École de technologie supérieure has created a device that produces 3D x-rays of the spinal cord, the joints and the vascular system.
A lot of research is being done at the École Polytechnique in health-related fields. For that reason, its team is one of the first in the world to have manufactured biological materials that are capable of repairing bone cartilage. Another team is working on an eye, which works using a stimulator implanted in the brain, and it has already completed an implant for the ear and a stimulator for the heart. Research is also focused on bone deformations, muscular and skeletal problems, blood circulation and cell functions. In all of these cases, discovering ways to replace or repair body parts that are damaged is the central focus.
The brain is also the object of several research projects. For example, alleviating pain using computer chips or activating prostheses by thoughts alone… just like Jade and Myriam imagined it!
* A contraction of the terms biology and electronic, the word "bionic" designates the artificial components used to replace or repair organs.