Multi-talented scientist and explorer Albert Lin has been at the heart of multiple initiatives and projects through his work with the University of California, but the place you more likely know him from could be his exploratory adventures with National Geographic. If you’ve seen him on his show, Lost Cities with Albert Lin, you might have noticed that he’s sporting a bionic leg.
Albert Lin lost his leg due to an off-road vehicle accident, where he was forced to eventually amputate the limb. The decision came after multiple days of deliberation in the hospital, before finally deciding to go bionic.
As a national geographic explorer and serial adventurer, Lin is exposed to all manner of occupational hazards that could lead to loss of life or limb, so you’d probably expect that the cause of his injury was related to his adventures. Turns out that the reality isn’t quite as exciting.
An Unfortunate Accident
With Lin’s line of work, he surely has plenty of exciting stories that he could opt to tell in place of the truth, like exploring booby-trapped ruins in some long-forgotten part of the world. Life isn’t a movie, however, and the real scenario surrounding the injury is a lot less colorful.
As stated in his Instagram post regarding his new artificial body part, Lin explains that the source of the injury was from what sounds to be a brutal off-road accident. The bones in his leg were completely crushed, leaving him with a horrific and debilitating injury.
In the end, it was decided that the simplest and only viable solution to the remaining damage from the injury was to amputate the limb below the knee. The planning around the decision was that following the amputation, Lin would have a prosthetic limb, essentially ‘going bionic’, as he explains it.
The mechanical function of the missing limb and subsequent artificial attachment was the least of Lin’s problems during the process, however. After the amputation, Lin was still experiencing feelings in the now-detached limb.
They definitely weren’t the kind of feelings you’d want to be dealing with, however, as Lin became plagued by excruciating pain in his new phantom limb. The pain was becoming so severe that it was destroying Lin’s quality of life, forcing him to find a way to solve the issue.
Lin realized that the issue was all mental, and in the same way that he had explored tombs and forgotten ruins, he may have to explore his mind to fully overcome the difficulties he faced.
Solutions Within Technology
Although the injury was disastrous, it’s strangely fitting that someone of Lin’s background would end up having an artificial limb installed on their body. Not just some Lara Croft or Indiana Jones-like figure jet-setting around the world in search of adventure or artifacts, Lin’s primary interest was the usage of technology to solve problems.
With his doctorate in Material Science and Engineering, obtained from the University of California, Lin has married his love of technology and technological solutions to his other primary interest, archaeology, and adventure.
One example was his research into the location of the tomb of Ghenghis Khan, where he utilized a series of satellites and infrared imaging technology to create a high-resolution digital map of the search area in hopes of finding some trace of the tomb.
Technology and Wellness
With the combination of his technological background, together with a newfound interest in both the body and the way it communicates with the inner workings of our mind, Lin was led to create the Center for Human Frontiers.
Experimenting with ways to manipulate the neuroplasticity of our mind, and to push the limits of both our brain and our body as far as possible, Lin has not only made enormous strides in the quality of life for amputees, but also for the concept of blending our biology and new technology together.
Huge leaps forward in the ease of access for prosthetic limbs has been one benefit of Lin’s work, with the barrier to entry being dramatically reduced by his aim to create 3D printed prosthetics.
Fully understanding the significance of how traumatizing such injuries can be, Lin has clearly gained a lot of drive to ensure that others in less fortunate circumstances than himself still have the opportunity to live a full life.