Bionic Limbs Blur the Lines of Disability

Friday, March 07, 2014

Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Juan Arredondo, a veteran of the war in Iraq, wears the world's first bionic hand with independently moving fingers July 23, 2007 in New York City. (Mario Tama/Getty)

Everyone has something they'd like to change about their bodies. At the same time, science and medicine keep breaking new ground in improving how human bodies function.

A new, award-winning documentary, "Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement," looks at the way in which new technology can improve the lives of those with disabilities. The Takeaway's own John Hockenberry took part in the film, as a long-time advocate of the disability rights movement.

And as you learn in the film, these disabilities can often become super strengths. Take Hugh Herr, director of MIT's Biomechatronics Lab and avid mountain climber, for example. He says he now climbs at a more advanced level with prosthetic limbs than he did before his legs were amputated.

Regan Brashear, producer and director of "Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement," sits down with The Takeaway to discuss her film and how these technological developments allow us to push our bodies beyond their limits.


Regan Brashear

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman


T.J. Raphael


Jacob Passy

Comments [4]

rhmaybe from nyc area

Until we have literal cyborgs, someone with a bionic arm or leg will still be disabled. The forces involved lead to damage to the remaining body part.

It's not all fun and games and 6 million dollar man. It's letting someone get close to normal, and still have a lot of baggage no one would want to deal with.

As someone with a disability that is better and worse at times, when someone sees me and I am having a good day, that proves to them that I am not disabled at all. But they don't usually see me on a bad day. And that the case here, we don't see the surgery to set up the remaining limb to take on the bionic limb. We don't feel the pain. We don't go through the hours and hours of training to try to make it work.

Mar. 10 2014 11:23 AM
Judith from FL

So, where can I get a bk prosthetic that helps me function? So many are, so many changes. My senior body has a hard time with that.

Mar. 09 2014 01:07 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

My soon to be seven year old son asked ,"Can I have bionics for my birthday?"
"What for?"
"So I can kick your ass."
"I'm afraid that you are going to have to ask your mother for that present."

When we got home, I watched some videos with my son on bionics. Wow! I realized that humans will start to enhance what they were born and that will become the normal way of being. Trans humans are coming and one day my son will be able to kick my ass.

Mar. 07 2014 02:44 PM
Regan Brashear from New York, New York

Thanks so much for having me on the show to discuss FIXED: THE SCIENCE/FICTION OF HUMAN ENHANCEMENT!

If you're in the NY area, we will have 4 screenings this weekend in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn. More details can be found here:

We will be at the Exploratorium in San Francisco on April 3rd. Find out about more screenings here:

Mar. 07 2014 10:01 AM

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