(48)Tapping The Brain Potential through Medical/Prosthetic and Electronic Research  to rehabilitate Physically Challenged Persons.

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‘It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness’.

Thus goes the popular saying, which means that it is Better to Carry Out A Task with Humble Efforts Than To Give Up The Enterprise Altogether For Want Of Optimum Provisions For Perfect Output.

This Saying is Aptly Applicable in the Rehabilitation of the Handicapped or rather, Physically Challenged Persons, for whom there is Immense Scope of Cure or At Least Significant Improvement for becoming self sufficient by Tapping the Vast Potential of the Human Brain, and the Central Sensomotor Nervous System through the latest advances in Medico- Surgical and Electronic Research.

There are many examples of such brilliant Neuro-Surgical Advances, but one   of the best advances made so far, read by me, was the recent replacement of    the original amputated arms of some men by ‘BIONIC’ , Mind controlled Prosthetic arms, and in another case, an arm fixed by attaching an artery, thigh muscle and nerve supply to the new limb, by surgeons  In Vienna, Austria, U.S. And UK.  I hope this prosthesis can be developed to help Para/Quadruplegics and Cerebral Palsy patients to recover some degree of mobility, and be released from their depressing dependence on others.

The Christian Medical College Hospital at Vellore, Tamilnad, India(my Alma Mater), too, has a Centre at ‘Karigiri’,near Vellore, for Rehabilitative Surgery. The Centre is doing rehabilitative surgery on Leprosy patients, who had lost their limbs, or function thereof, because of the sensory deficit associated with Leprosy. Now, it might have extended its scope to other handicapped persons also.

Research is also being done in many countries to restore neurological functions of paralysed  muscles of the limbs and face, by use of embryological tissue, as well as Cochlear implants to bestow or restore hearing ability to persons with Hearing impairment and also the simultaneous ability to speak    if the speech impairment is due to hearing deficit. This will, however, take much time and clinical trials in laboratory animals and human subjects to materialise.                                     

In the meanwhile, synthetic aids for hearing and communication are also being developed for the Deaf-Mute and Mute-blind persons, like a ‘Digital Glove’ fixed with Sensors for the five fingers, with a palm-sized Controller, devised recently by  a Pune M.Tech. student, Abhijit Kathwate, which facilitates their ability to translate hand gestures. Into words on an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) Screen, and also to receive spoken messages, and other sounds like the horns Of vehicles on roads amidst traffic.

Likewise, it is learnt that research work is also on at Coimbatore, India,            to produce an artificial or Electronically Powered Eye which can accord at least 50% ‘visual ability’  to blind people by fitting a light sensitive receptor Silicon implant having electronic fibres to connect the implant to the Optic Nerve, in place of the damaged retina, due to diseases like Retinitis Pigmentosa  and Macular Degeneration, with a video camera fixed to a spectacle frame, mounted on both sides of the face ! This innovation has been named             ‘BIONIC Electronically powered EYE PPT (with Power Point Template).                   This new Invention was first done in the U.S., but now, variations of it are being brought out by other countries too, like Australia, which has named its product  Argus II System Bionic Eye. The Bionic Eye helps even Completely blind people to regain their sight, Except those who have lost their eyesight due to Glaucoma, and damage/disease of the Optic nerve, or those who are blind from birth due to developmental anomaly or congenital absence of                    the Optic nerve. 

Yet, I am hopeful that for these unfortunates too, an Electronic invention will emerge in course of Time, which can replace the Optic nerve too by electronic fibres stretching from the Silicon Retinal Implant directly upto the Occipital Lobe, which is the main Centre for Sight, considering that we see familiar people or objects in our dreams too, even when we are asleep, and that the Receptor organ – the Eyeball, as well as the Optic fibres that are the Pathway for Light and Vision, are closed!

In short, as long as the Brain, which is the Head or Governor of the State –       of the Body and the Central ‘Powerhouse’ of our Sensomotor system, is sound and intact, there is no limit to the help it can provide to recover any lost faculty of the rest of the Body – our Biological Corporation !

It will be Wonderful if all this really comes to happen in coming future,            like God’s Gift! It will truly verify the Sanskrit Shloka,                                                  “मुकम् करोति वाचालम्, पंगुम् लंघयते गिरिम्”, meaning that with the help of God’s Grace,                                                                          “The Mute can Speak, and the Lame Cross Mountains “!

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