About the Artificial Body Zone

egyptian toe

A nearly 3000 year old wooden toe. | Image by Discovery News

When a body part is damaged it can be possible to repair or replace it. Inventive humans have been crafting artificial body parts since at least the days of Ancient Egypt.

Archaeologists have uncovered a mummified noblewoman dated to 900BC who had a prosthetic toe made of wood and leather. For most of our history the design and materials used to make body parts stayed much the same.

Since the 20th century, however, engineers have greatly increased the variety and effectiveness of artificial body parts, using new materials and smarter design.

People can now benefit from artificial hips to replace old ones, cochlear implants that improve hearing, and pacemakers that keep a heart beating correctly.

Researchers are now trying to grow new organs using stem cells, designing bionic arms that can outperform a natural one, and even developing whole exoskeletons that restore mobility to paralysed people.

Modern artificial knee | Image: Jordiferrer, Wikimedia

Modern artificial knee | Image: Jordiferrer, Wikimedia

In this zone there is an engineer who designs medical devices to be implanted into hospital patients, another who is developing a therapy to make the body start regenerating lost bone cells, and another who works at a hospital to help children regain their hearing with implants.

There is also an engineer who designs new spinal discs, and another who researches how to make better artificial muscles and bones.