The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has announced the first female recipient of its “bionic arm” technology:
To provide the neuro-controlled movement of RIC’s Bionic Arm technology, nerves located in the amputee’s shoulder, which once went to the amputated arm, are re-routed and connected to healthy muscle in the chest. This surgical process is called targeted muscle reinnervation. The muscle reinnervation procedure allows the re-routed nerves to grow into the chest muscle and direct the signals they once sent to the amputated arm instead to the robotic arm via surface electrodes. Then, when the patient thinks about moving his or her arm, the action is carried out as voluntarily as it would be in a healthy arm allowing for smoother and easier movement of the prosthetic.
In other words, the sensation nerves to the hand have been re-routed to a patch of skin on her chest. Now when Ms. Mitchell is touched on this skin, she feels that her hand is being touched. This will eventually let her ‘feel’ what she is touching with an artificial hand, as if she were touching it with her own hand.
Currently available artificial arms have only up to three motors. RIC’s revolutionary Bionic Arm technology includes a six-motor arm developed in collaboration with researchers around the world. With a six-motor arm, patients have greater motion in the shoulder and forearm and are able to use several parts of the prosthesis simultaneously to produce the more natural arm movements. Using key learnings from the first successful Bionic Arm recipient, former power lineman and double amputee from Tennessee, Jesse Sullivan, Dr. Kuiken and his team also have made significant advancements in the area of sensory feedback so that the patient can actually feel if they are touching hot or cold objects.
Ms. Mitchell, of Ellicott City, Maryland, is a former U.S. Marine Corps officer whose left arm was severed at the scene of a motorcycle accident in 2004.
The press release…
To see Ms. Mitchell’s photo go here…
Flashback: “Bionic Arm” Technology from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago