It is a human impulse to want to repair what is broken, to replace what has been lost, to enhance what is diminished. Nowhere, perhaps, is this desire more urgent than in the case of people with disabilities. With technology now so advanced that we can journey to the moon or communicate in seconds with people across the world, it is hard to accept the idea that a person right in front of us cannot walk, or hear, or see. And indeed, there are scientists who do refuse to accept it. It is because of their perseverance and determination that a disability need no longer be the overriding fact of an individual’s life. With inventions like hearing aids, intra-ocular implants and leg braces now commonplace, the day may not be far off when many disabilities will be as little regarded as near-sightedness is now.
Bio-medical engineering is a new and fast-growing field that is leading to enormous and far-reaching changes in medicine, health and rehabilitation. Though much of this work is currently at a research level, and still more raises deep moral questions, many of its applications are already in use in the health sector.