Hugh Herr, MIT professor advances bionics


In 1982 Hugh Herr lost his legs due to frostbite and learned that “people are never broken”. He designed legs for himself which allowed him to return to climbing and even created special features which allowed him to perform better. Now a Professor at MIT, Hugh Herr is devoted to designing and building bionic limbs which have a real interface with the person’s nervous, skeletal and muscle structures essentially creating the movement, strength and agility of the lost limb. Dr. Herr sees his research in bionics going further with more sophisticated interfaces and even exoskeltons to enhance human performance.

In a recent TED talk, Dr. Herr talks about the science of bionics and then introduces Adrian Haslet-Davis, the ballroom dancer who lost her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing last year. Ms. Haslet-Davis dances in her first appearance since her injury. I found this talk inspirational in terms of how science can transform a disability into an ability. Kudos to Hugh Herr.


About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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2 Responses to Hugh Herr, MIT professor advances bionics

  1. Michael Wilson July 9, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Good morning Adrian,

    I’ver recently read an article published in O&P NEWS regarding prosthetic physical restoration. I am particularly interested in Dr Herr’s comments relating to “emulation of biological function”. I would like to converse with Dr Herr regarding his thoughts and comments. Could you provide me with his email address or forward this request to him?

    Thanks, Michael Wilson cpo

    • Rolf Gainer July 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Dear Mr. Wilson,

      Dr. Herr is associated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)and I believe could be reached through that institution. We referred to Dr. Herr’s work in a NeuroNotes blog as his work in prosthetics is ground-breaking and of interest to our readers.

      Thank you for reading our blog.

      Rolf B. Gainer, PhD

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