Last Wednesday at the annual TED Conference in Vancouver, B.C., Hugh Herr, director of biomechatronics at the MIT Media Lab, inspired the audience in the same way he did at SOLIDWORKS World this year. This time, he shared the stage with professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a Boston Marathon bombing victim who lost her lower left leg in the incident.
To conclude Herr’s presentation on prostheses, robotics, and biomechanics, Haslett-Davis took the stage and performed a short rumba with dancer Christian Lightner with a BIOM prosthetic limb, dancing for the first time after her accident. Footage of the performance shows Haslett-Davis wiping tears of joy off of her face after the dance routine. In the TED talk, Haslett-Davis said that the movement with the artificial limb was natural and there was no training required.
The performance and Haslett-Davis’s ability to dance again is the result of a year-long partnership between Herr and Haslett-Davis. Hugh Herr has worked with the victim for the past year to design a prosthetic limb so that she could perform basic dance moves again. In an article on Mashable, Herr said that he “understood her dream to return to dance” because of his own dream to become a professional climber at age 17. When he lost his legs, he thought his dream was lost, so he devoted the rest of his life to design pprostheses that would enable to get back to climbing again.
Herr said that designing prostheses for a dancer was different than creating ones for walking because some dance moves are unique and not repetitive. Doing intensive research with control algorithms, modeling and studies on person who was of a similar size to Haslett-Davis, Herr designed an artificial limb that would help Haslett-Davis dance again.
Right now, Haslett-Davis has an array of prosthetic limbs – ones that she can use for dancing and others that she uses to perform her day-to-day activities. Eventually, with more technological research and advanced modeling in SOLIDWORKS, Haslett-Davis will have a BIOM prosthetic leg that will allow her to transition from dancing to walking without switching artificial limbs.
Click here to read an exclusive interview with Hugh Herr at SOLIDWORKS World.