Bionic Arm: New Technology in Limb Replacement - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/14/06

Bionic Arm: New Technology in Limb Replacement

Each year, 50,000 people in the United States lose a limb. Thursday in Washington, doctors and scientists unveiled the latest technology in limb replacement, introducing the world to the patients they call the first "real" bionic man and woman.

Claudia Mitchell and Jessie Sullivan who have turned to bionics to replace the use of limbs they had lost.

"You just reach out and it reaches out and raise up it raises up and come over -open," said Jessie Sullivan a bionic arm patient.

"Last night I cut my first steak since my amputation, that was a big deal to me," said Claudia Mitchell a bionic arm patient.

This cutting edge technology was developed by Doctor Todd Kuiken with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It works by grafting nerve endings that once went to the arm and hand to a chest muscle. Thought impulses received by the muscle are transferred instead to the bionic arm's computer which triggers motors to move the shoulder, elbow and hand mimicking a human limb.

"Our goal is to restore function. To enhance the lives of people with limb loss," said Dr. Kuiken.

Doctors hope to use the new technology to help soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 400 U.S. soldiers have lost at least one limb in combat.

Dr. Kuiken and his team are also working right now on developing sensors for the fingers on the bionic hand which will allow patients to sense hot and cold and to even "feel" the amount of pressure they are using.

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