Future Medicine - Robert Shepherd


My name is Rob Shepherd I'm the director of the bionics institute and I am also a professor of medical bionics at Melbourne University.

Bionics is literally the combination of electronics and biology and by combining those technologies we are producing implantable devices for people with nerve diseases.

The fundamental elements of a bionic device is to have an electrode that produces and delivers a small packet of electric stimulation to a nerve and we know that all nerves are sensitive to electrical stimulation that's the way they work naturally.

So we can artificially provide electrical stimulation to help control damaged nerves.

So this is a multi-channel cochlear implant. This is a device that's manufactured in Australia.

It consists of two parts.

First of all it consists of the implanted cochlear implant with the fine electrode array.

And then importantly this antenna here which is a really like a wifi technology.

This device is very thin and it's implanted behind the ear by ear, nose & throat surgeons and the electrode is inserted into the inner ear.

The patient wears this external speech processor which consists of batteries which provides power to both the speech processor and the implant.

A hearing aid type device which picks up the information about the auditory environment the hearing environment and relays that through this wireless technology to the implant device.

The bionic eye is a prototype device with this electrode array that's inserted behind the eye to stimulate the optic nerve it then contains this very flexible lead wire system and is connected to this special connector which comes out of the skin and the surgeon will place that connector behind the ear like that.

In the future and not so far in the future we will have very effective brain machine interfaces where people that have lost a limb can use a device that's implanted in their brain by thinking about using that limb they will be able to drive that limb.

They will be able to use a robotic arm as effectively as we can use a natural arm and that's called brain machine interfaces that's the next step in this sort of technology and then in ten years time perhaps they'll even be able to feel the fingers on the artificial limb and as that technology evolves there'll be new developments that we have never even dreamed about.

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Future Medicine - Robert Shepherd
Length: 03:13