HUMAN WITH 2 BIONIC ARMS
Amputee Makes History with APL’s Modular Prosthetic Limb, 31042
A Colorado man made history at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) this summer when he became the first bilateral shoulder-level amputee to wear and simultaneously control two of the Laboratory’s Modular Prosthetic Limbs.
Most importantly, Les Baugh, who lost both arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago, was able to operate the system by simply thinking about moving his limbs, performing a variety of tasks during a short training period. These Prosthetic Robot Arms are opening gates to new human cyborgs.
One other DARPA-funded robotic limb controlled by thoughts alone — actually make that two, because Colorado man Les Baugh had two bionic arms attached from shoulder level. Baugh got them this summer, 40 years after losing both arms, as part of a Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program test run at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The project’s researchers have been developing these Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPL) over the past decade, but they say Baugh is the “first bilateral shoulder-level amputee” to wear two MPLs at the same time. Unlike Jan Scheuermann who controlled a robotic arm with a pair of neural implants, though, Baugh had to undergo a procedure called targeted muscle reinnervation, which reassigned the nerves that once controlled his arms and hands.
Once that was done, the team recorded the patterns his brain makes for each muscle he moves, and then they had him control virtual arms to prepare for the real things. Since his arms were cut off from the shoulder, they also had to design a custom socket for his torso where the prosthetics can be attached. All their preparations were worth it in the end, though, as Baugh turned out to be a brilliant test subject: after just 10 days of training, he was already moving cups from one shelf to the other just by thinking it.
© 2015 The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory LLC. All rights reserved.