Some moments inspire you to move in a new direction and take the plunge into a world you had not yet imagined. I had such a moment in Boston last year when I worked on the Bionic Face project with researchers from Harvard. Surrounded by inspiring people creating a future that many of us only hear about in movies, I saw that combining modern technology with leading edge surgical practices could achieve something so simple, but so incredibly powerful; to give someone their smile back.
People affected by facial palsy suffer from the loss of animation of their facial nerves. Current treatments cannot return full control of these nerves to the patient, but the application of biotech devices promises to change this. After being involved in this project, I was inspired to take my own steps towards designing a medical device.
Watch Rod J. Rohrich, MD, Editor-in-Chief of "Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery" talk about an experimental bionic device that may help people recover full facial animation after facial paralysis. This link also provides information on the January 2019 PRS #PlasticSurgery article, "Toward the Bionic Face: A Novel Neuroprosthetic Device Paradigm for Facial Reanimation Comprising Neural Blockade and Functional Electrical Stimulation" by Jowett, Kearney, Knox, and Hadlock.
Nate Jowett was one of our speakers at the SyNC Symposium in Sydney last December. He is Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School and Clinical Associate, Massachusetts Eye and Ear. We have profiled Nate this month on our SyNC page where you can read more about his research and see the innovative work being undertaken at the Surgical Photonics and Engineering Laboratory (SPEL).