IN MEMORIAM: Professor
Bach-y-Rita (also rehabilitation medicine), whose research revolutionized
the fields of neurobiology and rehabilitation, died Nov. 20. Bach-y-Rita
began medical school at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
at age 17 and earned his MD in 1959. Initially, he traveled the globe
conducting various research projects, but his career path changed forever
when his father suffered a stroke. Bach-y-Rita set up a rehabilitation
center for his father and nursed him to a full recovery. The experience
reinforced Bach-y-Rita’s theory that brain functions are flexible,
Most notable was his work in the field of sensory
substitution. The research has helped blind people navigate hallways
and people with balance disorders walk easily. Eventually, it might
help stroke patients recover in full.
Based on this research, Bach-y-Rita co-founded the
company Wicab Corp., which developed a device that delivers sensory
information to the brain through a helmet and electrodes.
He joined the University of Wisconsin in 1983 as chairman
of the rehabilitation medicine department and later also joined the
Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Bach-y-Rita is survived by his wife, Esther, four
daughters, a brother and a sister.
To honor his memory, the University of Wisconsin Foundation
has established the Paul Bach-y-Rita Lectureship
Fund, which will support a UW-Madison lecture presented annually
by a distinguished neuroscientist familiar with his contributions. To
contribute, go to https://www2.uwfoundation.wisc.edu/MultiPage/processStep1.do.
Under “designation,” select “other, detailed below.”
In the box labeled, “If you would like to further restrict your
gift … ,“ type in Paul Bach-y-Rita
Memorial Lectureship Fund, Fund #12584843.
The spring 2007 issue of On
Wisconsin, the magazine for UW-Madison alumni, featured an extensive
story about Bach-y-Rita and Lecturer Mitch Tyler, who co-founded Wicab.
Download a PDF at www.uwalumni.com/home/onwisconsin/archives/spring2007/balancingact.aspx.