Thought-controlled Prosthetic Arm Tested

LAUREL, Md., Aug. 5 (UPI) — A four-year program to create a thought-controlled prosthetic arm has yielded a prototype with nearly as much dexterity as a natural limb, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will test a Modular Prosthetic Limb system on human subjects, using a brain-controlled interface, reported Wednesday.

The MPL provides 22 degrees of motion, including independent movement of each finger, and weighs about nine pounds, about the weight of a natural limb.

Providing nearly as much dexterity as a natural limb, the MPL is designed to respond to a user’s thoughts.

“We’ve developed the enabling technologies to create upper-extremity prosthetics that are more natural in appearance and use,” APL’s program manager Michael McLoughlin said.

“Now … we are ready to test it with humans to demonstrate that the system can be operated with a patient’s thoughts and that it can provide that patient with sensory feedback, restoring the sensation of touch.”

“The results of this program will help upper-limb amputees and spinal cord injury patients, as well as others who have lost the ability to use their natural limbs, to have as normal a life as possible despite severe injuries or degenerative neurological disease,” McLoughlin said.

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