Skywalker-Inspired Bionic Arm Gives Amputees “A New Hope”

US military veterans Fred Downs and Nardi McCauley lost their arms during service to their country. As participants of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research study, they have become the first individuals to receive the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LUKE arm system. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) bionic arm is a novel robotic prosthesis that attaches to the amputee’s limb and replicates many functions of a human arm with the help of sensors and an easy-to-use controller.

This device allows users to control multiple joints simultaneously and performs a variety of grips with adjustable grip forces. This technology was made possible by the Army Research Office and funding assistance from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). The working prototypes were designed by the DEKA Research and Development Corporation and built by Mobius Bionics, a commercial-scale manufacturer borne out out of the VA’s development efforts after years of research and testing.

US military veterans Fred Downs and Nardi McCauley lost their arms during service to their country. As participants of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research study, they have become the first individuals to receive the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LUKE arm system. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) arm is a novel robotic prosthesis that attaches to the amputee’s limb and replicates many functions of a human arm with the help of sensors and an easy-to-use controller. This device allows users to control multiple joints simultaneously and performs a variety of grips with adjustable grip forces. This technology was made possible by the Army Research Office and funding assistance from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). The working prototypes were designed by the DEKA Research and Development Corporation and built by Mobius Bionics, a commercial-scale manufacturer borne out out of the VA’s development efforts after years of research and testing.

Just two years ago, amputees with bionic limbs were able to control their movements with their thoughts — a sign of things to come with the Force?

Now, amputees can have the ability to control their bionic prosthetic limbs with their minds through the use of tiny implanted myoelectric sensors developed by Icelandic company Ossur, according to a report by Reuters. Researchers and developers from Ossur implanted the tiny sensors in the residual muscle tissue of two amputees to trigger movement in the prosthesis through a receiver. The orthopaedics company says the implant procedure only requires local anaesthesia and is fairly quick and straightforward. Impulses go from the brain into muscles, causing the muscles to contract. The sensors in the muscles pick up the signals from the brain and the signals can move into the prosthetics causing the limb to react as the brain wants. One of the two amputees has been living with the Ossur prosthetic for over a year and the company plans to further assess the technology with clinical trials.

Image Source: Flickr | JD Hancock

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