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Music & Prosthetics

January 8, 2014

Musical feedback could help veterans with prosthetic limbs re-learn to walk.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A musical boost for wounded warriors. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Study participant Kelly Elizabeth working with researcher Christopher Bennet. (University of Miami)

Study participant Kelly Elizabeth working with researcher Christopher Bennet. (University of Miami)

Veterans who have lost limbs in battle face another difficult battle: learning to walk using prosthetic limbs. But the University of Miami’s Department of Physical Therapy and the school’s Music Engineering Program have teamed up to help. They’ve developed sophisticated sensors for prosthetic limbs that interact with digital music players. When patients are walking correctly, they hear music playing properly, like this. Improper walking warps or thins the music. Correcting the problem provides an audio boost. Physical therapist Bob Gailey says amputees using the musical cues learn to walk better, sooner, and they can practice at home.

BOB GAILEY (University of Miami):

The therapist can track to see how they are doing, and say “Hey, you’re doing great” or “You need to get better balance on that prostheses so this is the exercise I want you to do.”

HIRSHON:

He says the technology will eventually be available for civilian use as well. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.