Academic journal article Science Scope

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arms Are Now a Reality

Academic journal article Science Scope

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arms Are Now a Reality

Article excerpt

A Swedish arm amputee has become the first person in the world to receive a prosthesis with a direct connection to bone, nerves, and muscles.

"We have used osseointegration to create a long-term, stable fusion between man and machine, where we have integrated them at different levels. The artificial arm is directly attached to the skeleton, thus providing mechanical stability. Then the human's biological control system, that is nerves and muscles, is also interfaced to the machine's control system via neuromuscular electrodes," explains Max Ortiz Catalan, lead author of a paper describing the breakthrough.

The direct skeletal attachment is created through osseointegration, or anchoring to the bone. The patient's arm was amputated over ten years ago. Before the surgery, his prosthesis was controlled via electrodes placed over the skin. Robotic prostheses can be very advanced, but such a control system makes them unreliable and limits their functionality, and patients commonly reject them as a result.

Now, the patient has been given a control system that is directly connected to his own. He is also one of the first in the world to take part in an effort to achieve long-term sensation via the prosthesis. Because the implant is a bidirectional interface, it can also be used to send signals in the opposite direction--from the prosthetic arm to the brain. This is the researchers' next step, to clinically implement their findings on sensory feedback. …

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