Press Release: OHSU Trauma Surgeon Turned Investor Shares Future of Thought-Controlled Bionic Limbs


Dr Albert Chi saw the destruction of war with his own eyes as a trauma surgeon and observed countless lives forever changed by the loss of limbs. Now, after years of research, he will be showcasing the incredible robotic arm he developed that is revolutionizing the field of prosthetics, when he delivers the 2018 OHSU Foundation speech on Calvin and Mayho Tanabe.

Chi will present “Bionics: The Evolution of Man and Machine” on Tuesday, October 23 at 7 pm at the Newmark Theater in downtown Portland.

Calvin and Mayho Tanabe’s speech was created to offer different perspectives on important topics. The conference features national and international speakers who bring diverse ideas to the community and encourage a free exchange of ideas.

Chi is Associate Professor of Surgery (Trauma, Critical Care, and Acute Care Surgery) at the OHSU School of Medicine. His background as a trauma surgeon motivated him to create a new generation of advanced prosthetic limbs – including a thought-controlled bionic arm – that are radically changing lives and garnering national attention.

One of his patients, Johnny Matheny of Port Richey, Fla., Will join him for Tanabe’s speech to demonstrate the extraordinary robotic arm that allows him to do everything from picking up a single grape to playing the piano.

“I have gone beyond the term ‘prosthesis’ to describe what we create,” Chi said. “I like to describe myself as a surgical electrician. What we’re really doing is using a combination of biology and technology to completely rethink a limb that can be controlled by the mind.

Chi arrived at OHSU in 2016 from Johns Hopkins University, where, among other duties, he served as the Medical Director of the Targeted Muscle Reinnervation Program and learned more about the possibilities of the body-mind interface. . His previous training in biomedical engineering, coupled with his experience as a US Navy trauma surgeon during Operation Enduring Freedom, led him to imagine a new era of “futuristic” prosthetics that could be controlled by the spirit.

Matheny underwent TMR surgery, performed by Chi, to “reassign” nerves that once controlled an arm and hand he had lost to cancer so they could communicate with a robotic prosthesis.

Chi is also a Principal Clinical Investigator in the first US clinical trial of children’s bionic arms produced on 3D printers. As a young man, he nearly lost his life in a motorcycle accident, and this experience was instrumental in his approach to his career.

“Lives can be shattered instantly in war or accident, or over time with a devastating medical diagnosis,” Chi said. “I know what it’s like to feel deep fear and loss, as well as the joy of having a second chance. My goal in everything I do is to help people cope with the adversity placed on them and live their lives the best they can, so as not to let a perceived disability be truly crippling.

For more information on Tanabe’s address and to purchase tickets, click here.

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