In the Star Wars universe, a cybernetic replacement was any type of biomechanical device that was used to replace body parts ranging from internal organs to limbs. Prosthetic replacements were connected to organic tissue through a complex synthetic neural interface, which provided the recipient with control and sensation. External replacements were often covered by synthflesh (which bonds the flesh until it can be repaired) to emulate actual organic tissue. Cybernetics were used for replace lost limbs and damaged organs or to enhance the patient which would bestow new abilities or improve the patient’s performance in normal or even abnormal settings and circumstances.
Anakin Skywalker had a mechno-arm, a custom-made prosthetic limb constructed after the loss of his right arm during a duel with Count Dooku on Geonosis. A great deal of Darth Vader’s ravaged body was supported by prosthetic replacements; although, they had a comparatively low quality compared to others. Vader’s artificial limbs were incredibly heavy and purposely badly made, frequently snagging on the inside of his suit. However, despite the low quality, his artificial limbs never tired or weakened.
The cyborg, General Grievous, was forced to have almost his entire body replaced by cybernetic parts after a near-fatal shuttle crash. Though he retained his vital organs, such as his brain, eyes, heart and stomach, nearly everything else was cybernetic.
Luke Skywalker was also fitted with a prosthetic hand after losing his own during a duel with his father on the planet Bespin. This hand was replaced during his brief service to the resurrected Emperor. The replacement was later severed during a duel with Lumiya, so he was given yet another replacement prosthesis.
Many others have also received prosthetic limbs and organs in the Expanded Universe.
Prostheses also appears in Star Trek, Terminator, Babylon 5, and RoboCop, as well as in other science fiction films, fantasy films, Japanese anime, manga, books, and video games.
In real-life, an artificial limb (also known as a prosthetic limb) is a type of prosthesis that replaces a missing extremity, such as arms or legs. The type of artificial limb used is determined largely by the extent of an amputation or loss and location of the missing extremity. Artificial limbs may be needed for a variety of reasons where a body part is either missing from the body or is too damaged to be repaired, including disease, accidents, and congenital defects. A congenital defect can create the need for an artificial limb when a person is born with a missing or damaged limb. Prosthetics are; however, not needed in the event of an accident where only the nerves were damaged and not the extremeties. Industrial, vehicular, and war related accidents are the leading cause of amputations in developing areas, such as large portions of Africa. In more developed areas, such as North America and Europe, disease is the leading cause of amputations. Cancer, infection and circulatory disease are the leading diseases that may lead to amputation. Body parts such as legs, arms, hands, feet, and others can be replaced. (See Wikipedia)
Some robotic limbs are neural prosthetics—they have the ability to take signals from the human brain and translate those signals into motion in the artificial limb. DARPA, the Pentagon’s research division, plans to create an artificial limb that ties directly into the nervous system.
Targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) is a technique in which motor nerves, which previously controlled muscles on an amputated limb, are surgically rerouted such that they reinnervate a small region of a large, intact muscle.
The targeted sensory reinnervation (TSR) procedure is similar to TMR, except that sensory nerves are surgically rerouted to skin on the chest, rather than motor nerves rerouted to muscle. The patient then feels any sensory stimulus on that area of the chest, such as pressure or temperature, as if it were occurring on the area of the amputated limb which the nerve originally innervated.
Some patients even have special limbs and devices to aid in the participation in sports and other recreational activities.
Within science fiction (in this case, Star Wars), and, more recently, within the scientific community, there has been consideration given to using advanced prostheses to replace healthy body parts with artificial mechanisms and systems to improve their functions. The morality and desirability of such technologies are currently being debated. One healthy scientist, has had a robotic arm since the year 2002 that was directly interfaced into his own nervous system. (See Wikipedia)
Dean Kamen has designed the ”Luke arm”, a prosthesis named after the prosthetic worn by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Its fate currently rests in the hands of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has funded the project.
In Star Wars, most of General Grevious’s internal organs were replaced with artificial organs to keep the surviving organs from dying. In Terminator Salvation, Marcus Wright’s internal organs are living, but the rest of him is simply cybernetics.
In real-life, an artificial organ is a man-made device that is implanted into, or integrated onto, a human to replace a natural organ, for the purpose of restoring a specific function or a group of related functions so the patient may return to as normal a life as possible. The replaced function does not necessarily have to be related to life support, but often is.
The purposes of artifical organs is for life support to prevent imminent death while awaiting a transplant (e.g. artificial heart), dramatic improvement of the patient’s ability for self-care (e.g. artificial limb), improvement of the patient’s ability to interact socially (e.g. cochlear implant), or cosmetic restoration after cancer surgery or an accident.
Brain pacemakers, including deep brain stimulators, send electrical impulses to the brain in order to relieve depression, epilepsy, tremors of Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions such as increased bladder secretions. Rather than replacing existing neural networks to restore function, these devices often serve by disrupting the output of existing malfunctioning nerve centers to eliminate symptoms.
The most successful function-replacing artificial eye so far is actually an external miniature digital camera with a remote unidirectional electronic interface implanted on the retina, optic nerve, or other related locations inside the brain. The present state of the art yields only very partial functionality, such as recognizing levels of brightness, swatches of color, and/or basic geometric shapes, proving the concept’s potential. While the living eye is indeed a camera, it is also much more than that.
Ears, eyes, cardia, heart, limbs, liver, lungs, pancreas, bladder, and other types of organs can all be replaced. (See Wikipedia)
This is, perhaps, one of the most developed areas of (movie) technology that we have covered so far. While, prosthesis is not quite as advanced as it is in the movies, the artificial limbs and organs still can accomplish the tasks and purposes that they were intended for. So now that we have an idea of how this all works, who is up for replacing their limbs with robotic arms?