Every autumn for the past 22 years, a group has gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss efforts toward helping the deaf to hear, the paralyzed to walk, and the blind to see. No, they aren't an assembly of televangelists. Rather, they are a group of scientists trying to implant machines into humans to compensate for a variety of disabilities of the nervous system.

These congregants from more than 20 disciplines--including materials scientists, neurologists, histopathologists, electrochemists, neurophysiologists, orthopedic surgeons, urologists, otolaryngologists and engineers--come to discuss their attempts at miracles at the Neural Prosthesis Workshop, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

While the popular press often covers neural prosthetics research with a science fiction twist, portraying the scientists as on a mission to create the bionic man, the researchers are actually working toward helping a diverse group of disabled people function more normally in their daily lives.


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