NO, REALLY. AMPUTEES HAVE BEEN TESTING THEM FOR OVER A YEAR
For a full decade, Gudmundur Olafsson was unable to move his right ankle. That’s because it wasn’t there. Olafsson’s amputated lower leg was the delayed casualty of an accident from his childhood in Iceland, when he was hit by an oil truck. “I lived in pain for 28 years,” says Olafsson. “After 50-plus operations, I had it off.” For years after the operation he wore a Proprio Foot, a prosthetic with a motorized, battery-powered ankle, sold by the Reykjavik-based company Ossur. The Proprio is essentially a wearable robot, with algorithms and sensors that automatically adjust the angle of the foot during different points in its wearer’s stride. Olafsson’s ankle moved on autopilot.
But 14 months ago Ossur upgraded his hardware. Now, at age 48, Olafsson can move his right ankle by thinking about it. When the electrical impulse from his brain reaches the base of his leg, a pair of sensors embedded in his muscle tissue connect the neural dots, and wirelessly transmit that signal to the Proprio Foot. Since the command reaches the foot before the wearer’s residual muscles actually contract, there’s no unnatural lag between intention and action. That makes Olafsson part of a highly exclusive club. Along with David Ingvasson, a fellow Ossur tester, he’s one of the only people on the planet who owns a brain-controlled bionic limb. Ossur unveiled its implanted myoelectric sensor (IMES) technology today at an event in Copenhagen, and is now preparing large-scale clinical trials, in the hopes of reaching the market in three to five years.
“The first time, to be honest, I started to cry.”
This is a bigger breakthrough in the field of robotics and advanced prosthetics than it might appear. Brain-controlled bionic limbs make headlines on a regular basis, with the implication that the science has been solved, and experimental systems are already transitioning to products. But most of those devices are confined to laboratories, and many require complex surgery, such as transplanting muscle tissue or implanting electrodes in a subject’s brain. These devices look like the real thing in brief, sometimes compelling video clips. But so far, prosthetics that respond to thoughts are not so much a reality as a promise.
The Latest on: Brain-Controlled Bionic Limbs
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The Latest on: Brain-Controlled Bionic Limbs
- Prosthetic armon February 28, 2021 at 4:00 pm
The prosthetic limb in question is the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). The Johns Hopkins Medicine Brain-Computer Interface study began a year ago ...
- New surgery may enable better control of prosthetic limbson February 15, 2021 at 9:49 pm
MIT researchers have invented a new type of amputation surgery that can help amputees to better control their residual muscles and sense where their “phantom limb” is in space. This restored sense of ...
- Gillian Renyon February 14, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Brain-Controlled Bionic Limbs Developed At MITThe "smart limbs" being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are possible because of the Ewing Amputation. Marathon Bombing Survivor ...
- A Born Competitoron August 12, 2018 at 7:28 pm
Danisewicz also participated in a 2011–12 study of brain-controlled prostheses with Northwestern professor Levi Hargove at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Center for Bionic Medicine. Tell us ...
- We’ve Reached A New Level In Bionics: Artificial Limbs We Forget Are Artificialon May 30, 2018 at 5:47 pm
Improved amputation techniques are giving amputees with advanced prosthetic limbs a feeling of control ... one patient who was able to wiggle a brain-controlled neuroprosthetic foot.
- The Stepping Strong Centeron April 9, 2018 at 3:21 pm
Brain-Controlled Bionic Limbs Developed At MITThe "smart limbs" being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are possible because of the Ewing Amputation. Organization Founded By ...
- Intracortical microstimulation of human somatosensory cortexon October 13, 2016 at 9:01 am
See allHide authors and affiliations Touch is essential for hand use. Yet, brain-controlled prosthetic limbs have not been endowed with this critical sense. In a new study by Flesher et al., ...
- Brain-Controlled Bionic Legs Are Finally Hereon May 21, 2015 at 5:00 am
Brain-controlled bionic limbs make headlines on a regular basis, but most of those devices are confined to laboratories, and many require complex surgery, such as transplanting muscle tissue or ...
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