Soldiers and Marines fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the news almost every day. Some are wounded. Badly. We’ll look at how engineers are helping them put their lives back together. Today, on Engineering Works!
It’s one of the goofy things about modern war. Personal armor, air evacuation and better field medicine mean that many wounded who would have died in previous conflicts, live. But they live with the effects of severe burns, brain injuries, blindness, spinal damage, amputations. Since 2001, almost 700 have lost at least one limb.
This is where technology lends a hand. Meet CAREN, the computer-assisted rehabilitation environment. CAREN is a dome that helps soldiers with artificial legs or arms learn to use them in different situations. Walking down a busy street? See other pedestrians around you. See the buildings. Hear and see traffic. A walk in the woods? See the trees, hear the wind and the birds, feel the trail twist and turn under your feet.
Computers linked to sensors on the body move a treadmill to match the ground you’d be walking over and adjust video images all around to what you’d see as you walk. There’s more to CAREN than helping injured troopers learn how to deal with their wounds. Medical researchers also use the simulator to study problems like balance disorders and how stress affects people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
There’s no clever way to end this one. Hang in there, guys. See you next time.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.
Start the discussion: This seems to be a really effective way to get injured people — not just soldiers and Marines — back into the game. Is this idea being used anywhere else, for anything else?