We’ve been excitedly covering DARPA sponsored Luke Arm development by Deka Research and Development for a few years now. The device is without a doubt the most advanced prosthetic yet developed, and it may soon become available as a real product because the VA is beginning a large scale clinical trial to test its capabilities.
From the Department of Veterans Affairs:
In collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the study marks the first large-scale testing of the arm, which allows those who have lost a limb up to their shoulder joint to perform movements while reaching over their head, a previously impossible maneuver for people with a prosthetic arm.
The study is under the direction of Dr. Linda Resnik at the Providence, R.I., VA Medical Center. Veterans fitted with the arm will provide feedback to guide engineers in refining the prototype, before it is commercialized and also made available through the VA health care system.
A unique feature of the advanced arm is its control system, which works almost like a foot-operated joystick. An array of sensors embedded in a shoe allows users to maneuver the arm by putting pressure on different parts of the foot. The current version uses wires to relay the signals to the arm, but future versions will be wireless.
The arm can also be adapted to work with other control systems, including myoelectric switches, which are wired to residual nerves and muscles in the upper body and respond to movement impulses from the brain, shoulder joysticks or other conventional inputs.
Press release: New Mobility for Veterans, Service Members, Other Americans
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