An innovative invention of a brain-controlled prosthetic arm could help change the lives of millions of amputees.
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Johns Hopkins University was looking for a patient who is willing to become a test subject for their latest technology project. They found their test patient, Johnny Matheny, an amputee who had to cut off his arm because of cancer. Together, they worked on the project that could possibly revolutionize prosthetic limbs.
This year, the project finally produced amazing results as Matheny can finally move each of the prosthetic fingers and can even hold small items. Matheny likes the brain-controlled prosthetic arm since it’s very comfortable unlike the harness versions of the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL).
Creating the desired results for the prosthetic project wasn’t easy. Matheny had to undergo surgical operation nerve reassignment surgery in order for his brain to send signals to the remainder of his left arm. He also had a metal implant attached to his bone to act as a “medium” of the brain signals and the prosthetic.
When using MPLs, the common complaint researchers receive is that the socket of the limb doesn’t perfectly fit and it causes pain and even sores. This was addressed with the use of osseointegration, a surgical procedure that allows the titanium implant to be equipped into the bone with little to no repercussions.
The researchers were very watchful of the implant since it may cause infection. Although the possible infections are not severe, the research team just wants to be cautious to keep Matheny safe.
After the various surgeries, Matheny needed to exercise to become more comfortable with his new prosthetic arm.
Aside from the arm training, finger control was also part of the exercise. Thanks to the innovative prosthetic implant, Matheny can now command his fingers with ease. “It’s all natural now,” says Matheny after the first test of the MPL.
The prosthetic implant is one of the best inventions to date and is a big and important step for researchers to continue to strive so that the future prosthetic limbs become more enhanced and functional.