Hugh Herr

Hugh Herr

by Nathan Zumut from San Diego, CA

"I didn't view my body as broken, I reasoned that a human being can never be broken. Technology is broken. Technology is inadequate." -Hugh Herr

     For Hugh Herr, getting trapped in a blizzard while mountain climbing and losing his legs may have been the best thing that had happened in his life. Hugh Herr is a biomedical engineer who works at the MIT Center for Extreme Bionics. In 1982, at the age of 17, he lost his limbs when mountain climbing, due to frostbite. This was his inspiration to become a biomedical engineer, as he wanted to continue mountain climbing, and help others with the same problem. A hero must possess a hard working and determined attitude, in order to help overcome problems for the benefit of others. Hugh Herr shows determination and hard work when he fights through his disability in order to pursue his dream of mountain climbing, and helps overcome the problem he sees in technology for the benefit of others. For these reasons, Hugh Herr is a hero.

     First, Hugh Herr portrays a diligent and dedicated personality due to his grit to continue pursuing his dreams. Despite his handicap, Hugh was determined to keep mountain climbing by going through rehabilitation: “...Hugh and a fellow climber were caught in a blizzard and stranded on the mountain for three nights in -20F degree temperatures... Both of Hugh’s legs were amputated below the knees. Following months of surgeries and rehabilitation, Hugh was doing what doctors had believed unthinkable: climbing again” (Hugh). Hugh Herr fought through the monotony and exhaustion of rehabilitation in order to pursue his dream of mountain climbing. Herr’s determination and hard work is portrayed because he did something that was thought of as impossible, which is walk again, due to his disability. He went through rehabilitation, a long, tedious task of learning how to walk and learn basic tasks again, even though he was told walking again would be impossible. He tried his hardest, and despite the odds, he was able to mountain climb again. Hugh Herr also shows hard work and determination due to his willingness to fix a problem on his own, rather than waiting for others to do it: "’To me, this guy, Dr. Herr, was an inspiration,’ Gadsby says. ‘Unlike the rest of us, he wasn't sitting around, thinking, 'Gee, I wish they could come up with a better gadget.' He got those degrees so he could fix himself--and fix everyone else’" (Shaer). Herr inspired many people because he was able to fix his own problem, instead of waiting until a solution came out. This shows perseverance and dedication because when Herr saw a problem, which was a lack of technology in prosthetic limbs, he set out to fix that problem on his own, because he knew nobody else would do it. He studied countless hours during school in order to become a biomedical engineer and fix this problem, and in the end, he became successful. Overall, Herr shows dedication and diligence due to his ability to go out of his way, and work hard to be able to fix his problems and pursue his dreams.

     Additionally, Hugh Herr is a hero because he overcomes problems for the benefit of others. Herr first experienced a problem in technology when he obtained prosthetics: “Shortly after my amputation in 1982, I was fitted with prosthetic limbs. Their lack of technology shocked me, so I decided to design my own--ones that would enable me to return to mountain climbing” (Hugh). From his own experience, Hugh Herr observed a lack of technology in prosthetics, and set out to fix them. This shows how Herr helps fix problems for the benefit of others because he didn’t wait for somebody else to fix this lack of technology, but fixed it on his own, for the better of himself and others. Hugh Herr also shows his ability to fix problems to help others by discovering new information about prosthetics in order to create a foundation of knowledge, to further enhance prosthetics: “When Hugh Herr put his robotic fish into its tank, it swam off looking surprisingly life-like. But a few minutes later, it was flagging--and eventually came to a complete stop. It wasn't faulty: it just needed a break. The reason? Herr's robot is the first one to be powered by real muscles” (Samuel). With his experiment, Herr was the first person to create a moving fish with real muscles. This experiment is the foundation of new knowledge, that can be used in order to create more advanced inventions. This knowledge may spark the creation of new inventions that will benefit others even greater than before. Because he fixes problems for others, and creates a better future for the technology in prosthetics, Herr is a hero. Overall, Hugh Herr is a hero due to his ability to help others by overcoming a modern problem and creating prosthetics for others to use.

     All in all, Hugh Herr is a hero due to his grit and diligence, and because he helped others with his inventions. Herr’s perseverance and hard work helped him pursue his dream of mountain climbing, and inspired him to create prosthetics. His inventions helped fix his own problem, his loss of legs, and helped fix problems for others, and his research will continue help create new inventions, as it can be the foundation of new technology. Herr is an inspiration because he worked hard to pursue his dreams of mountain climbing and creating prosthetics. He worked hard all his life, and due to this was able to become successful. He is also an inspiration because when he saw a problem in the world, he didn’t just wait for a solution to be found, but went out of his way to solve it, which helped others as well. To me, this truly inspiring, and I want to work hard to be as successful as him. Hugh Herr is an inspiring role model due to his succession and his contribution to the technology in prosthetics, and should be remembered for his hero-like works.

Works Consulted

Draxler, Breanna. "Hugh Herr: on the future of bionics." Popular Science, Nov. 2015, p. 32. Biography In

     Context, Accessed 16

     Jan. 2019.

“Hugh Herr.” TEDMED, TED Conferences LLC, 2010,

Pierce, Charles P. "Hugh Herr: at MIT, making 'biohybrids,' or prostheses that blur the line between human and device." Esquire, Dec. 2006, p. 186.

     Biography In Context, Accessed 16 Jan. 2019

Samuel, Eugenei. "Muscling in: a robotic fish powered by real muscles could boost artifical limbs." New Scientist, 24 Feb. 2001, p. 22. Biography In

     Context, Accessed 18 Jan. 2019.

Shaer, Matthew. "Giant steps." Smithsonian, Nov. 2014, p. 18+. Biography In Context, Accessed 16 Jan. 2019.


Page created on 1/30/2019 3:44:45 AM

Last edited 1/31/2019 9:16:49 PM

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