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Prosthetics

A new prosthetic system allows amputees to feel familiar sensations and also, somewhat unexpectedly, reduces their phantom pain. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center developed the system to reactivate areas of the brain that produce the sense of touch, but recipients of prosthetic hands reported their phantom pain subsiding almost completely after being hooked up to the system. Read More
It seems like hardly a month goes by without news reaching us of advances in the field of bionic hands. Unfortunately, however, these high-tech prostheses can be very costly to purchase, with prices ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. This puts them out of reach of a large number of people, such as a boy that General Electric engineer Lyman Connor met last year. Connor proceeded to design and build a low-cost bionic hand in his home workshop, which he now hopes to make available to amputees-on-a-budget .... plus he hopes to get one to the boy, if only he can locate him. Read More
Touch Bionics has unveiled the latest enhancements to its i-limb Ultra Revolution at OTWorld 2014 International Congress. Users can now set and assign different grips for different objects and configure the prosthetic hand via Android apps. Read More
Prosthetics have come a long way in recent years, with many artificial limbs incorporating advanced robotic and cybernetic systems that include everything up to and including mind control. Unfortunately, for all these advances, the lack of prosthetics capable of complex motor control means that most users see them as tools rather than replacement limbs. However, that may be changing as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced approval for marketing of the DEKA Arm system, the first prosthetic arm set to hit the market that translates signals from a patient’s muscles to carry out complex tasks. Read More
Many modern prosthetic limbs are so intricate that they seem like something from the sci-fi cyborg realm. Unfortunately, to the wearer these marvels still feel like lumps of dead metal and plastic. DARPA's recently announced Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program aims to change this. Using implantable sensors linked wirelessly to external modules, the goal is to provide lifelike prosthetic limbs with such a high degree of sensory feedback that they bring a sense of being part of the the wearer’s body, not something just strapped on. Read More
From robotics to optics and forgery prevention to solar cells, biomimicry has proven fertile ground for researchers. Recognizing nature's potential in the development of new technologies, DARPA has announced the establishment of the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), a new division that aims to "merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security." Read More
In 2012, Jason Barnes lost the lower part of his right arm after being electrocuted. Though he could have pursued his dream of becoming a professional drummer using only his remaining limb (like Def Leppard's Rick Allen, for example), he decided to build his own stick-wielding prosthesis. The attachment certainly allowed him to make some noise, but it wasn't flexible enough to give the speed or bounce control he was looking for. Now, thanks to the work of Georgia Tech's Professor Gil Weinberg, Barnes is preparing for a gig later this month where a novel robot drumming prosthetic arm will help him pound out precision rhythms with a live band. Read More
A man who lost his left hand in an accident nine years ago has had his sense of touch restored using a prosthetic hand surgically wired to nerves in his upper arm. During the trial Dennis Aabo Sørensen was able to grasp objects, detect the strength of grip, distinguish shape and identify objects by touch while blindfolded. The work was carried out by scientists from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA). Read More
While 3D printing technology has emerged to serve a wide variety of purposes, few appear more worthwhile than that of US-based company Not Impossible Labs. Through its Daniel Project, the company has not only provided 3D-printed prosthetic arms for amputees in war-torn Sudan, but empowered the local community to continue the initiative in its absence. Read More
Recently there's been increasing hope for people who have lost the use of their arms, as various research institutes have started developing prosthetic arms that can be controlled by thought alone. So far, all of the systems have just allowed users to control a single arm – for many of the tasks that we perform on a daily basis, that's simply not enough. Now, however, scientists at North Carolina's Duke University have succeeded in getting two rhesus monkeys to control both arms of animated digital avatars, using nothing but their mind. Read More
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