Cpl. Sebastian Galagos is one of those Marines who’s seen the difference between war in Hollywood and war in the field. He did, after all, wake up one day next to his detached right arm, blown off by the same blast that killed his squad leader.
It still had the lucky hair-tie wrapped around the wrist, the one his girlfriend had given to him prior to deployment, as it lay on the ground before him.
Not a pretty picture, but back at home technology is improving the scene and has Galagos sporting a state-of-the-art prosthetic that’s helping him focus on the other facets needed to rebuild his shattered life.
James Dao of the New York Times reports:
Earlier this year, (Galagos) received a pioneering surgery known as targeted muscle reinnervation that amplifies the tiny nerve signals that control the arm. In effect, the surgery creates additional “sockets” into which electrodes from a prosthetic limb can connect.
Connecting nerve tissue to electrical sensors is really the forefront of prosthetic technology. Scientists are continually figuring out the best ways to combine the human nervous system with computers and circuits, while others work on the actual robotic technology — making it more dexterous, and above all, delicate.
As Time Magazine reported a year ago, Galagos was able to successfully crack eggs. Imagine what he’ll be able to do a few years from now. From Terminator Arms to super-strong nanotech muscle fibres, prosthetic tech is on the advance.
Though the tech is not just for injured troops, it does restore a measure of normalcy to those coping with losses in combat. A lot of amputees talk about feeling ‘ghost’ limbs, but the ghosts around Galagos have little to do with his missing limb.
His new arm is $110,000, but the memory of his lost friends and comrades is priceless.
He tells the Times that he repeats their names, “first name, and last,” when he’s lacking motivation.
The New York Times video team put together a great little piece about Galagos and his struggles.
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