Another feature is in the DEKA hand, which offers six separate grip patterns that allow people to choose which grip works for a certain activity, Resnik said. For example, a person would use a fine pinch grip to pick up something small, but not to pick up a round object or a bottle.
The latest prototype of the arm features inertial measurement units worn on the top of the foot that "detect the position and the velocity" of foot movements. Each directionality or movement has a meaning assigned to it. If a user moves forward, the arm might be directed to perform a certain movement. If a user lifts his foot, the arm would move in another way. These types of prosthetic limb controls "really have never been used before this project," she said.
So far, the DEKA arm has been tested on 32 amputees in a controlled environment. The next phase of the project is to send people home with the arms after they have been trained to use them to see how they perform, Resnik said. Although it is a goal of the project to make the DEKA arms available commercially, there is no timeframe for that yet.
This project is one of a number in which the US military is trying to create more dexterous and fully functional prosthetic limbs. Last month, we reported on the Army's work on an innovative autoadaptive prosthetic leg in collaboration with the prosthetics industry and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Great stuff. It only makes sense that the advances in electronic motion control could make a big difference in these types of applications, especially in terms of more advanced movements. Sensor inputs could be key to expanding the possibilities of this technology. Thanks.
"The shoulder, elbow, and wrist pieces can be worn together or separately" immediately brings forth memories of Robert Heinlein's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" in which the protagonist changes prosthetic hands depending on the current task.
Granted the sensor inputs are still a bit primitive, but look at the adances so far! This is science fiction turned real, and very exciting to see.
Yes, since this is still in testing, Glenn, different kinds of controls may come into play in the future as users provide feedback. The hand grips are quite unique and allow for more freedom of movement than merely a static prosthetic hand would.
Prosthetic limbs and other artificial body parts have come a long way in the last 10 to 20 years, and many on the market and under development today can restore nearly the same functions as the human body parts they’re replacing, or even improve them.