‘Unfold’ Podcast, Episode 5: ‘The Human Machine: Reimagining Prosthetics’

Dave Brockman, a hand amputee, wears a myoelectric prosthesis that looks like a red and black glove. He sits in front of his orthotist who is making sure the fit is correct.
Dave Brockman, a retired firefighter who had his hand amputated, is trying out a new and smarter myoelectric prosthesis. UC Davis prosthetist Fehran Maher is making sure the fit is correct. (Amy Quinton/UC Davis)

In the newest Season 4 episode of Unfold, a UC Davis podcast, we look at how the combination of surgery and machine learning is making life easier for amputees.

Nearly half of all arm amputees choose not to use their prosthesis, despite improvements in technology. Prosthetic devices can be too difficult to operate, unintuitive, and don’t allow amputees to sense pressure or temperature. At UC Davis, engineers, neuroscientists and surgeons are collaborating to solve this problem.

In this episode:

  • Jonathon Schofield, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering 
  • Wilsaan Joiner, neuroscientist and professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences
  • Andrew Li, assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery, UC Davis Health 
  • Clifford Pereira, associate professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery, UC Davis Health 
  • Laduan Smedley, certified prosthetist-orthotist and biomedical engineer, UC Davis Health
  • Fehran Maher, certified prosthetist-orthotist, UC Davis Health
  • David Brockman, retired firefighter, hand amputee with prosthesis

Next week, the award-winning podcast will launch its final episode of the season, “Linking Wartime Trauma to Dementia in Vietnamese Communities.” Meet the UC Davis researcher embarking on the first long-term study examining early life contributors to dementia in Vietnamese communities.

Unfold is available free, on demand on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Google Podcasts, on your smart speaker or wherever you get your podcasts. Original music for Unfold comes from UC Davis alumnus Damien Verrett and Curtis Jerome Haynes. Follow on Twitter at @Unfoldpodcast.

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