New technologies introduced to patients with missing limbs
Science and technology have come a long way. Especially to help those who can benefit from it the most. One of the newer devices out there on the market that was recently introduced by scientists and computer technicians is a thought-controlled bionic arm. The prosthetic arm has been introduced and used by more than 50 amputee military veterans whose limbs were lost in combat.
Although the product was first developed by a US doctor, Todd Kuiken, in 2002, there have been changes and tweaks to perfect the arm. The technology that’s used is known as Targeted Muscle Reinervation (TMR). TMR works by using the nerves that are still left and reroutes the brain signals there. Retired military sergeant Glen Lehman is one of the owners of these prosthetics and he reported that, “it does feel like my own hand.” Lehman had lost his forearm and elbow in a grenade attack in Baghdad in 2008. With the older technology users were only able to control certain movements by pulsing their muscle. TMR has made it so that users are actually able to squeeze and pinch their fingers in addition to full movement and swing. They are still far from perfect but research is still being done to increase the ability of the new limb. One thing that they’re looking into is how to allow the user know how much strength he or she is using. They are trying to use more sensors to detect how much pressure is being applied when the hand is trying to squeeze something. It’s amazing how far they’ve come so far and how much more they’ll be able to do in the future.
One of the potential projects stemming from more advanced prosthetic arms is the possibility of patients with spinal cord injuries to be able to control a range of devices from computer games to prosthetics. Scientists are researching ways to place computer chips on the surface of the brain to interpret neural activity. In the future they hope that one day patients will be able to put on a special electronic cap that allows them to maneuver objects. Although there seems to be a ways to go in research of this technology it’s impressive to see how far we’ve come so far.
Here is a link to the article that I read up on: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110218/ts_afp/scienceusmilitaryresearch
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