Technology can always be depended on to do some amazing things. One of the newest developments in prosthetics is a modular prosthetic arm that has been created under a DARPA prosthetics program at the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
What makes this particular prosthetic arm so special is that the artificial limb will have an electrical port for a direct neural connection to the brain. This connection will be achieved via surgically implanted external electrodes that connect to the patient’s motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement). Michael Belfiore reports on the amazing way in which the amputee will achieve control and feeling through the device (“Tactile Prosthetics” Bloomberg Businessweek. 10/12/15–10/18/15, p. 37):
“A computer wired to the electrodes can interpret signals from the patient’s brain and the arm’s sensors, so it moves properly and the patient can feel what’s grasped.”
Obviously, this is good news for amputees. More good news—the research team is now exploring the initial steps to begin marketing the device. Now that this kind of a device is proving viable, over time the prosthetics industry should be able to provide increasingly refined devices to those who dearly need them. And if other technologies offer any clue, the pricing should come down too.