A new implant allows amputees to control bionic legs with their subconscious thoughts.
The implant, which is placed in the patient’s residual muscle tissue, contains myoelectric sensors which allow prosthetic limbs to move via a receiver. Two amputees who received the implant were able to “control their lower-limb prostheses subconsciously.”
“As soon as I put my foot on, it took me about 10 minutes to get control of it,” said Gummi Olafsson, who is missing his right foot and lower leg. “I could stand up and just walk away. Come back, sit down, use my muscles to move my foot in the position I wanted to use it. It was, like you couldn’t believe the feeling when you were moving your ankle. It was really strange… and overwhelming.”
The artificial limbs were developed by the Icelandic orthopedics company Ossur using sensors provided by the Alfred Mann Foundation. While other bionic devices have been developed, they still require intentional thought. This new technique allows a “patient’s brain to control both subconscious and intentional movements.”
“The brain power, when it takes over, it actually gives impulses through the brain into the muscles, then the muscles contract,” said Ossur’s director of research and development, Thorvaldur Ingvarsson. “We put sensors into the muscles, and the muscles would pick up the signals, and the signals move their way into the prosthetics, and then the prosthetics react as your brain wants.”
Although the technology is still in the trial stage, the company believes it will be available to the general public within three-to-five years.
(Source: Yahoo! News)
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