New Prosthesis Technology Nearly Natural
Chicago researchers have made a breakthrough in prosthesis technology with a new prosthetic arm controlled only by the patient's thoughts.
The new technology connects muscles in the chest to truncated nerves from the amputated arm. Sensors in the chest then pick up nerve signals as they come from the brain.
The nerve impulses are transmitted to the prosthetic arm, which triggers the arm to perform a variety of motions. This process is called targeted muscle reinnervation.
In traditional prosthetic arms, the patient flexes a back muscle, which in turn enables awkward mechanisms to move the limb. Many amputees prefer no prosthesis to these models.
A recent study tested the reaction times of five patients who received the new prostheses against those of non-amputees. The results showed only a slight difference in the time it took both groups to initiate and complete arm motions- a mere fraction of a second.
The new technology is still being developed and is not widely available. However, those who have received the surgery have generally been very pleased with the results.
"I was amazed at the level of hand function and how fast I was able to control the arm and hand," Amanda Kitts, a recipient of the new prosthesis, told Los Angeles Times. "I was able to pick up a penny off the table and could catch an object in motion, like a checker that was rolling across the table."