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Medical Institution(s) that could make and explant(?) a full-body prosthetic

  1. Sep 8, 2012 #1
    Completely hypothetical, maybe even fictional :wink: question.
    If in the near future there arose a need to perform an operation to implant a brain into a full-body prosthetic, what would be the likeliest institution(s) where it would be performed? I'm looking at the headquarters of Össur in Reykjavik, but possibly they only have manufacturing capabilities. Yes, also where the prosthetic could be produced on a short notice... Well, any other tips you might have for imagining a brain transplantation (implantation, or however you might call it) procedure (especially on the patient's side).
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2012 #2


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    None. Brain transplants are nowhere near the realms of possibility at this time. We don't yet have a viable way of reliably regenerating cut nerves let alone linking up all the connections between a central nervous system and a body. That's before we start speculation on a mobile life support machine for a brain that can take motor output from and provide sensory input.
  4. Sep 8, 2012 #3
    Hey years ago, this is years ago by the way, some Russian scientists switched the heads from the neck level of 2 dogs. At the end one of them lived, heart lungs were working, but definitely no movement. So I guess in a way the autonomic NS can re attach but the somatic nerves have more issues.
  5. Sep 8, 2012 #4


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    You're going to have to provide a reference for that claim. There have been various attempts to transplant an animals head onto another but to my knowledge none lived very long at all.
  6. Sep 8, 2012 #5
    Hm. Ok. Just by the way of clarification, I thought eye prosthetics and robot arms, with, I have read (just today, cursorily, probably on Wikipedia), some sensory feedback, meant that we can get to nerves a bit, even with some damage. So my reasoning was that it's only matter of time before prosthetic limbs, eyes, pelvis and other body parts and sensors could be combined, to provide a (superficially) complete artificial body to put the central nervous system into. If we suspend the issue of life support, of course.
  7. Sep 8, 2012 #6
    Yeah they didnt live very long, that is what I am saying.
  8. Sep 8, 2012 #7
    Arms, optic nerve, and limbs are all peripheral nerves NOT CENTRAL, and they can regenerate if given the right circumstances.
  9. Sep 8, 2012 #8
    Well? If you've got a (relatively) intact CNS (which means the brain and the spinal column, plus all axons (right?) intact... okay, I see. Haven't they been able to repair some spinal column damage with stem cells recently? Or have I dreamed it up?... No. They managed to prevent scar tissue from forming (consider this rumors and hearsay if you haven't heard about it, because I couldn't find where I got that even if you gave me a time machine). That would still be no help?
  10. Sep 8, 2012 #9
    Whoah. While I was gone in July and August one board disappeared (Debunking) and another sprung up in its place (SciFi). Hm. Winking, apparently, was unnecessary. Well, this is intended for a story, but the aspect discussed here is supposed to be as close to modern science as possible without making it complete realism.
  11. Sep 9, 2012 #10
    tl;dr: Computer/brain interfaces aren't up to to it yet. Everything else can be gotten from the appropriate medical implant and robotics companies.

    There are three main technologies needed for this.

    One is life support tech that is mainly blood processing: pumping, filtering, nutrition, oxygenation. This is known technology but afaik isn't meant to be permanently installed. Any company that designs/manufactures things like heart pumps and blood filters could produce the necessary equipment.

    Next are computer-brain interfaces. This is an old idea but it's only recently that were getting useable working prototypes. The main issues in this area are connecting to the brain and interpreting the data. Since this is still a frontier science, even if you can find a manufacturer, anything they produce will be experimental.

    Last is robotics. Robotics in general has been pretty thoroughly researched. Research around human-form robots mostly revolves around the software. Since we're talking about installing a brain in a machine, we don't really need that sort of software. Robotics these days can be considered as off-the-shelf.

    The op asks about putting a brain in a robot. I think having a brain-in-a-box separate from the body is a better solution. Wireless communications would make this possible. Also consider that you may not even need a human-form body. The C/B interface can do a lot of abstracting. With such a setup, getting hit by a car or falling down the stairs is no longer life threatening.

    3D game engines can be treated as virtual reality setups with better than eyeball resolutions and full sensory simulation. (The sensory portions of the brain are capable of receiving and processing more data than the sensory organs produce. This is one of the reasons hallucinations tend to seem more real than reality.) What you can do with such a setup is mostly a question of how much computing power you can throw at it.

    As for interacting with the real world, you can use whatever "body" you like and the C/B interface can abstract to your liking. This could be used to treat the robotics as your body or to provide you with a virtual interface so you could, say, drive a car without having to actually have a body. (Google's self driving cars have the automation and sensory technology installed so you could drive them via remote control.) Though admittedly a human-form body is more convenient in today's world as it's been designed with humans in mind. But thanks to wheelchair accessibility laws, you really only need a box with wheels and manipulators.

    In summary, this isn't feasible currently due to the infancy of working computer/brain interface research. But given how fast that's coming along, we may make the 2045 deadline.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  12. Sep 9, 2012 #11


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    This is not the case, machines capable of keeping a brain alive permanently just does not exist and the "technological singularity" is a mesh of science, pseudo-science and ideology.

    This thread has nowhere to go.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
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