Pioneers are not made; they are missioned. Conventional thinking points to scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs as the sources of innovation. They definitely have a hand in the process, but we often forget the influence that the end user, or consumer, has on the technology innovation process. Jim Jatich was one of those pioneers that shaped generations to come in neural prosthetics.
Jim was an average guy, born and raised in Northeastern Ohio. He graduated from the University of Akron with a mechanical engineering degree and went to work for Firestone in Ohio. He had a loving family and married the love of his life. He had his beloved hobbies like playing pool, scuba diving, and working on his green Chevy Camaro. The oldest of six, Jim spent much time with his family and his younger siblings.
One summer afternoon, Jim dove into the lake, he hit a shallow spot, compressing his head into his spine and paralyzing him immediately. Jim couldn’t move and couldn’t feel a thing. Being the first on the scene, his sister, Judy, pulled her brother to the surface in a panic to save him. “I can’t feel a thing,” Jim said. From that point on, Jim entered the world as a high quadriplegic, unable to move his four limbs, care for himself, or create the mechanical drawings that he loved to do. Life would be forever different. Learn more about the Cleveland FES Center by clicking here.
Read more of Jim's story in the book, Bionic Pioneers.
‘This too shall pass.’ We often tell ourselves this phrase when we have an ache or a bodily complication that is out of the ordinary. For Lauren, it was a matter of getting her body back to normal after giving birth to her first daughter, Evelyn. Craig, her husband, and Lauren were anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. That moment did not come until almost two weeks past her due date when they agreed to induce labor.
Inducing did not make the process any quicker. Lauren went into the hospital on Monday and did not deliver their daughter until Wednesday. During the birthing process, they found that the baby in a occiput posterior position in which when the back of the baby’s head presses against the mother’s tailbone and the baby is face down going through the birth canal, also known as sunny-side up. After 3 hours of pushing, To help pull the baby out, the physician used a set of forceps. Those forceps would become the nemesis of a long and arduous condition Lauren would endure for several years.
The Medtronic Interstim Therapy for Bowel control by clicking here.
After serving four years in the U.S. Army, Matt June joined the U.S. Postal Service while returning to the small rural town of Steubenville, Ohio. For years, Matt was a clerk in the offices but eventually became a carrier with his own route. This 41-year-old father of five had a pretty ‘normal’ American life. The first time he suspected something was not quite right was when he was cutting his fingernails and had difficulty putting pressure on the clippers. Then he started to have trouble gripping a baseball and running between the bases. It was like something was seeping into his life, but he did know what.
It wasn’t until Matt started falling and those falls began interfering with his carrier route did he decided to see his doctor. After explaining the situation, Matt was referred to a rheumatologist who suspected that he had myositis, an inflammation of the muscles causing weakness and fatigue. Not fully satisified with the diagnosis matching his observed symptoms, Matt had another referral but to a neurologist. It was September 2009 when he confirmed the diagnosis. It was not myositis but a more progressive condition of Lou Gerhig’s disease, otherwise known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Learn more about respiratory technology here.
The atypical stoke survivor is over the age of 55. In this case, Andrew survived a stroke five decades earlier at age 15. While competing for his high school rugby team, Andrew Genge executed a big tackle. In that maneuver, his opponent’s hipbone collided with Andrew’s face, breaking his jawbone, slicing into his carotid artery, and sending a blood clot to his brain.
It was three in the afternoon and Andrew was rushed to emergency services. He was stabilized and treated for his apparent injuries but the blood clot went undetected. Four hours after the accident, he started to feel the symptoms of a stroke. His right arm became weak. When he tried to speak to alert the medical personnel, he could only produce a few grunts and no comprehensive words. Reasoning that it was a side effect of the pain medications, Andrew went to sleep. At midnight, the blood clot released, damaging sections of Andrew’s brain and leaving him with paralysis on the right side of his body.
Read more of Andrew's story in the book, Bionic Pioneers here.
Imagine suddenly living inside the body of a manikin. All of your movements are frozen but your senses remain active. You can see, smell, hear and feel but you can’t respond to any of them, neither by movement, expression or speech. Your mind is perfectly functioning. You are observing the outside world but not able to interact with it or anyone. This is just one way to describe locked-in syndrome (LIS). It is a ‘rare’ condition. The condition may be caused from a variety of sources such as traumatic brain injury, disease or more commonly stroke. The options are scarce for people living in a locked-in body. Meet one woman who is trail-blazing the way to give those with LIS an outlet to the world.
On a spring afternoon, Cathy and her son, Brian, were preparing the soil for some new plants and seeds. Brian was doing the heavy lifting while Cathy was grooming the soil for fresh vegetable plants. Wanting some respite from the heavy lifting, Brian asked if they could take a break. He wanted to go inside the house to view the basketball game and get an update on the score. Cathy conceded, brushed off the excess dirt and joined Brian into the house.
Once inside, Cathy suddenly felt nauseous. She told Brian that she was going upstairs to her bedroom. After climbing the stairway, Cathy’s right foot began to shake violently, her body collapsed and she fainted to the floor. Brian heard the sound, ran up the steps. Finding his mother on the floor, Brian made a makeshift bed for her to lay until he could get professional help. Cathy was in and out of consciousness, but while lying on the floor staring at the ceiling, she knew she had a stroke. She did not know why or how she knew. The symptoms she was experiencing were related to a stroke and she simply knew. What she did not know was the depth of the danger of its impact.
Read more about Cathy's story and the technology here or Read more about brain computer interface technology here.
Hand Grasp Prosthesis
Hemiplegia from Stroke
Brain Computer Interface