Luke Skywalkers prosthetic arm a reality

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Luke Skywalkers prosthetic arm a reality

Design News
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It's the stuff of science fiction: a bionic arm that slips onto the stub of an amputated limb and supplies all the movement and dexterity of the real thing.

Movie characters since the days of Luke Skywalker have been attaching them, gazing hopefully, then wiggling their fingers in a modified victory dance to show that their artificial limbs were every bit as good as nature's original.

Film fancy? Maybe not.

At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, physicians earlier this year laid the foundation for such technology when they strapped Jesse Sullivan's new arm and shoulder into place.

Sullivan, a Tennessee power company lineman whose arms were amputated after he was electrocuted on the job, suddenly had an artificial limb that allowed him to rotate his wrist and upper arm, bend his elbow, grip with his hand, and, incredibly, feel.

And like Luke Skywalker, Sullivan required just a few minutes of learning to adjust to the new limb, mainly because it used a neural wiring scheme similar to nature's own.

... Quote:
What's interesting about Jesse is that he simply does what he always did prior to the accident. If he wants to lift something off a table, or reach for something over his head, his thought process is exactly like anyone else's.
Hanson adds that because the prosthesis is so schematically similar to a real arm, Sullivan learned how to use it in about 90 minutes.

"There's a lot happening under the hood here," adds Kevin Englehart, associate director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of New Brunswick and a contributor to the design. "But for the user to learn, it requires just a quick calibration."
By netchicken: posted on 1-11-2005








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