Cory Doctorow is my hero.

I’ve lost count of how many times he has shown himself more than worthy of adoration.

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Sang-Mook Lee

September 5, 2009

Sang-Mook Lee is a very widely cited/published marine geophysicist from South Korea who sustained a severe spinal cord injury. He is paralyzed from the neck down.

Sang-Mook Lee, PhD

Sang-Mook Lee, PhD

Here is a blog about his assistive technology (which does not seem to be updated anymore). He was recently profiled on Nova Science Now.

What makes his situation notable is that people with disabilities in South Korea rarely engage in society, but Dr. Sang-Mook Lee has returned to his research and teaching at the Seoul National University. They call him “the Korean Stephen Hawking” there (which I don’t particularly think is appropriate; why not just be Dr. Lee, scholar in a wheelchair?) He wrote a book about his struggle and also blogs and makes public appearances to advocate for individuals with disabilities. There are some progressive laws in place (see links after the jump), but the society as a whole is lagging behind on the issue.

Having total paralysis is bad enough, but to face widespread discrimination and a public environment lacking in accommodations would be worse. Such an environment needs civil rights leaders such as Dr. Lee.

Some more links about disability law and issues in Republic of Korea:

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Combat helmet design and TBI

September 1, 2009

From the New England Journal of Medicine: (edited for brevity).

Among surviving soldiers wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, TBI appears to account for a larger proportion of casualties than it has in other recent U.S. wars. […]22 percent of the wounded soldiers from these conflicts […] had injuries to the head, face, or neck. This percentage can serve as a rough estimate of the fraction who have TBI [T]he true proportion is probably higher, since some cases of closed brain injury are not diagnosed promptly.

In the Vietnam War, by contrast, 12 to 14 percent of all combat casualties had a brain injury, and an additional 2 to 4 percent had a brain injury plus a lethal wound to the chest or abdomen. [B]ecause mortality from brain injuries among U.S. combatants in Vietnam was 75 percent or greater, soldiers with brain injuries made up only a small fraction of the casualties treated in hospitals.

Kevlar body armor and helmets are one reason for the high proportion of TBIs among soldiers wounded in the current conflicts. By effectively shielding the wearer from bullets and shrapnel, the protective gear has improved overall survival rates, and Kevlar helmets have reduced the frequency of penetrating head injuries. However, the helmets cannot completely protect the face, head, and neck, nor do they prevent the kind of closed brain injuries often produced by blasts. As insurgents continue to attack U.S. troops in Iraq, most brain injuries are being caused by IEDs, and closed brain injuries outnumber penetrating ones among patients seen at Walter Reed[…] All admitted patients who have been exposed to a blast are routinely evaluated for brain injury; 59 percent of them have been given a diagnosis of TBI[…]. Of these injuries, 56 percent are considered moderate or severe, and 44 percent are mild.

So the design and engineering of armor has changed the nature of the injuries that happen on the battlefield.

the MKU Instavest prototype

the MKU Instavest prototype

Design. Engineering. Acquired disabilities. That sounds like this blog.

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