In one of the most amazing displays of medical and prosthetic technology, scientists have invented the world’s first prosthetic arm that can be controlled by thought. Combining prosthetics and bionic technology, the futuristic arm has been manufactured from the latest state of the art technology by British scientists.
The thought controlled prosthetic arm operates via the spinal cord and has radically improved the concept of prosthetic arms which has greatly reduced a user’s handicap.
A marvel of medical technology controlled by thought
The bionic arm is a true marvel of medical technology and science. It works through thoughts routed through the spinal cord by detecting spinal nerve signals rather than the current models which work on twitches. A user can easily think of an action and the arm responds with the corresponding physical movement. Experts feel that this will provide better function since it relies on undamaged motor signals.
Current electronic arms aren’t favored by amputees due to the restriction and limitations of movement. Moreover if muscles are damaged, it prevents amputees from carrying out basic actions. The new prosthetic arm allows users to perform a wider range of movement through linking the nerves from the spine into muscles which are undamaged. Movements such as opening and closing the hand or wrist rotation can be easily performed. All a patient has to do is to think he is controlling a phantom arm.
How it works
A user imagines a desired action which is carried as a signal by nerves to muscles. The electronic sensors placed on the skin surface pick up the signals that control the bionic arm. Scientists are hoping to program the arm to perform an even wider range of complex actions. The research responsible for the thought controlled prosthetic arm was led by Dr Dario Farrina based at the Imperial College London along with colleagues from Europe, Canada and the US. As per his statement: ‘When an arm is amputated the nerve fibers and muscles are also severed, which means that it is very difficult to get meaningful signals from them to operate a prosthetic.
Flexible prosthetic arm enables future improvement for wider function
Volunteers fixed with the new prosthetic arm successfully carried out extensive movements that would not have been possible with conventional robotic muscle controlled arms. The new technology uses motor neurons in the spinal cord whose fibers called axons control muscle movement in the body. The spinal motor neurons send signals to the new arm via sensors connected to the prosthetic. The technology is flexible enough to feature updates and improvement so that wider range of functions can be programmed into the robotic prosthetic for wider function.
After conducting further research and improvements, the new prosthetic arm may soon be available in the market within three years.