With a robotic arm, amputees can touch and feel objects again by using the power of thought to operate it.
The high-tech prosthesis, developed by the University of Utah, uses microwires implanted under the skin, which send signals to an external computer that tells the arm to move.
The arm even has sensors that send signals to the microwires, which mimics the feel of the hand when it grabs something.
This allows users to feel that objects are being held, so that the brain knows that the prosthetic hand does not have to squeeze too tightly.
Fascinating video shows broker Keven Walgamott, who lost his hand and part of his arm in an accident, was able to pick grapes and hold eggs without crushing them – and even put on his wedding ring.
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The prosthetic arm (pictured above) uses wires implanted under the arm and connected to a computer indicating that the arm is moving. Hand-held sensors send signals to the wires, which mimic the feel of an object
Video shows amputee Keven Walgamott (photo), who lost his left hand in an accident, was able to pick grapes without crushing them and hold an egg without cracking it
The prosthesis is known as the LUKE arm to Luke Skywalker, who receives a robotic arm after he chops off his own piece in a battle in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
& # 39; We have changed the way we send that information to the brain to match the human body & # 39 ;, said Dr. Gregory Clark, associate professor of biomedical technology at the University of Utah.
& # 39; And by matching the human body, we could see improved benefits. We make more biologically realistic signals. & # 39;
The LUKE arm is made from motors with clear & # 39; silicone skin & # 39; so that it looks like a human hand. It is powered by an external battery and connected to a computer.
Micro electrodes and wires are implanted in the part of the arm where nerves remain.
These send digital signals to a computer – creating a connection with the brain – which then tells the arm to move, just as the human brain would normally do.
But to perform tasks such as picking things up and how much pressure is put on those objects, the process is a bit different.
The team made mathematical calculations and pulse models of the arm of a primate, which was used for the LUKE arm.
The LUKE arm is called Luke Skywalker, who receives a robot arm in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Pictured: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi
From there, the arm has sensors in its hand that send signals to the wires and micro-electrodes, mimicking the feel of an object.
& # 39; Providing sensation only is very important, but the way you send that information is also crucial & # 39 ;, said Dr. Clark.
& # 39; If you make it biologically more realistic, the brain will understand it better and the performance of this feeling will also be better. & # 39;
Walgamott, who lost his left hand and part of his arm 17 years ago in an electrical accident, was one of seven test subjects who tried the arm during clinical tests.
& # 39; It almost made me cry, & # 39; he said. & # 39; It was really great. I never thought I could feel in that hand again. & # 39;
Walgamott, a broker, was able to pick grapes from a vine without pressing them, place one egg in a bowl without cracking it, and even feel sensation when he held his wife's hand.
& # 39; One of the first things he wanted to do was put on his wedding ring. That is hard to do with one hand, & Dr. 39 said. Clark. & # 39; It was very moving. & # 39;
The University of Utah team says it is currently developing a version of the arm that is portable and wireless, meaning that it does not need to be connected to an external computer.
Dr. Clark said he hopes that by 2020 or 2021, provided the LUKE arm is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, three subjects can take it home.
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