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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Prosthetics


Whilst researching my book I have learnt a fair bit about prosthetics. I thought it might be an interesting challenge to write a poem on the history of prosthetics using both rhyme and the technical terminology.

Apart from the amazing advances made by people with extraordinary vision; I believe there were four main take away points;

The first is that the vast majority of amputations are the direct result of lifestyle choices which end up with poor vascular circulation, with diabetes being the main offender.

Secondly, were it not for war and the funding made available by the military to develop prosthetics and related technologies; there would not be sufficient funding to accommodate the huge demand placed on health services by the civilian demand for prosthetics.

Third, injured warriors tend to be young, healthy and determined to recover as much functionality as they can. This is significantly different to the vast majority of amputees, consequently their recoveries tend to be more successful than that of their civilian counterparts.

Finally, despite the improvements in technology, and the promise of things to come; mother nature provides us with amazing bodies which we should make every effort to take care of.

Prosthetics

Egyptologists discovered
a mummy’s big toe
made of leather and wood
four millennia ago.

Down through the ages
Man’s tried many things.
From peg-legs for pirates,
to Bader’s tin limbs.

In the sixteen century
a Frenchman named Paré
used amputation
to help victims fare.

Three hundred years later
Surgeons used anaesthetics,
now they had time
to make stumps more aesthetic.

Then ‘attachment’ improved -
in eighteen sixty three,
with the pressurised sockets
used by Doctor Parmelee.

The twentieth century,
dominated by war
Saw prosthetic development
make improvements galore

With the First World War
came aluminium and power
as soldiers lost limbs,
hour upon hour.

In nineteen forty six
Berkley UC
developed a suction sock
For use above the knee

In’75 a man named Martinez
changed the engineers brief;
from replication of nature
to functional relief.

In workshops and hospitals
pioneers strive together
their aim to match nature.
Some plan to do better!

Multidisciplinary teams
treat the patient as whole.
They develop a person
and rebuild their soul.

In the last twenty years
There’s been huge innovation
in Myoelectricity and
Targeted Re-innervation.

Surgeons re-position nerves
to gain myoelectric improvement.
They attach to skin for feedback;
and muscle for movement.

Sensors detect the mind’s signals,
processors issue commands.
Servos drive motors and rotators
and the prosthesis meets the demand

Osseointegration;
now there’s a very long word,
uses alloplastic materials
to achieve something absurd.

It allows man made materials
to be fused to live bone.
allowing prosthesis and amputee
to be joined as one.

Significant advances in medicine
have reduced rejection rates,
They now use donor bone marrow
When they transplant hands and face.

Regenerative medicine?
Science fiction at best,
but add powdered pigs bladder
and now we’re impressed!

Improving the human body
sounds like a pipe dream
but it’s going to be possible
though nothing too extreme .

The sprinter Oscar Pistorius
runs on carbon blades.
He passes able body runners
as if they promenade.

Whilst not advanced enough
to restore a person’s vision
The brain port upon a tongue
can help avoid collision.

For it provides a tingle
which forms a certain trace
and allows the blind to identify
an object or a face.

Improvements come fastest
when nations are at war.
For funding from the military
opens many doors.

Young warriors are fitter
then the average amputee,
and lessons learnt repairing them
benefit humanity.

Yes warriors lose limbs
It’s an ugly fact of war,
but bad lifestyle choices
take many, many more.

John Carré Buchanan
30 November 2011

3 comments:

  1. Wow, such amazing research and a powerful poem! Thank you :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Angela, I have been trying to write this poem since September and I was not sure if I had got it right. I wanted to get all the facts in, but also use it as a challenge to get the rhyme in without making it too flippant, so thank you for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Poet at Jaybern also deserves the auxiliary title "Poetry at Jaybern" The author not only writes poetry for therapeutic reasons and is a living example of the success of such approaches (join the club Jay) but also helps other poets to bring their work to light. The site is very well designed both technically and esthetically.

    I have one other wish, ie. I hope the poet at Jaybern is also as keen on science as I cf. the image of a technically equipped "handicapped" athlete running with prothesis

    Read more: http://no-holds-bard.blogspot.com/#ixzz1g94OrCmq
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Share Alike

    ReplyDelete

I really appreciate constructive feedback. If you are able to comment it would be most grateful.