Mind-Controlled Prosthetics For People Suffering From Amputation

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have been working on an experiment that gives mind-controlled prosthetics to a man with double upper-arm amputation. The man is the very first person to wear and also control the Laboratory’s modular prosthetic limbs.

Before putting the prosthetics on, they had to do a surgery for targeted muscle reinnervation, a new surgical procedure that reassigns nerves that once controlled arms and hands. By reassigning existing nerves, researchers make it possible for people suffering from upper-arm amputations to control their prosthetic by merely thinking about the to performed movement.

‘We use pattern recognition algorithms to identify individual muscles that are contracting, how well they communicate with each other, and their amplitude and frequency,’ Johns Hopkins Trauma Surgeon Albert Chi explained. Those information are then used to translate them into movements within the prothesis.

Customised sockets for the shoulder to support the limb prosthetics ensure the connection with the previously reinnervated nerves. After the socket was finished, the man could successfully move several objects.