Dean Kamen's “Luke arm”—a prosthesis named for the remarkably lifelike prosthetic worn by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars—came to the end of its two-year funding last month. Its fate now rests in the hands of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which funded the project. If DARPA gives the project the green light—and some greenbacks—the state-of-the-art bionic arm will go into clinical trials. If all goes well, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives its approval, returning veterans could be wearing the new artificial limb by next year.Check out a video of the arm in action. What is amazing about this is that is doesn't even require surgery to use.
Kamen spent a few weeks traveling around the country interviewing patients, doctors, and researchers to get an idea of the current technology—and soon saw the deficit in available arm prosthetics. He was swayed by the discrepancy between the current state of leg prostheses and that of arm prostheses. “Prosthetic legs are in the 21st century,” he says. “With prosthetic arms, we’re in the Flintstones.”
Depending on the degree of amputation, today’s state-of-the-art prosthetic arms can cost patients about $100 000 or more. Luke project manager Rick Needham says that the goal is to keep as close to that cost as possible.
via IEEE Spectrum via Engadget