Thursday, September 14, 2006

1st Woman With Bionic Arm

Mitchell, who lives in Ellicott City, is the fourth person -- and first woman -- to receive a "bionic" arm, which allows her to control parts of the device by her thoughts alone. The device, designed by physicians and engineers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, works by detecting the movements of a chest muscle that has been rewired to the stumps of nerves that once went to her now-missing limb.

Last summer, surgeons took the first step by rewiring the skin above her left breast so that when the area is stimulated by impulses from the bionic arm, the skin sends a message to the region of her brain that feels "hand."

The prosthesis is strapped onto the shoulder stump and torso in a way that positions electrodes over the regions of the chest muscles that are responding to different "hand instructions." Those electrodes, in turn, are wired to a computer and then on to motors in the forearm and hand of the device.
Too cool. Who do we have to thank for this?
The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is part of a multi-lab effort, funded with nearly $50 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to create more useful and natural artificial limbs for amputees.
Oh, how I love DARPA. Of course with all the injuries in Iraq, they are going to need this.
As of July, 411 members of the military serving in Iraq, and 37 in Afghanistan, have suffered wounds requiring amputation of at least one limb.
With over 10,000 wounded I am surprised that only 411 of them have lost a limb.

via The Washington Post

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