Space & Innovation

Amputee First to Get 'Lock and Load' Prosthesis

The patient is better able to do his job as well as cope with everyday situations.

[slideshow 11538]

Thanks to advanced research on prosthetic limbs, a Swedish truck driver is the world's first amputee to receive a prosthesis that has a direct connection to his bone, nerves and muscles. A titanium rod surgically embedded in the living bone -- similar to how hip and knee joint replacements are inserted -- makes removing and reconnecting the artificial arm easy.

The robotic prostheses is controlled via an implanted neuromuscular interface. First, a titanium implant is surgically inserted into the bone where, over time, it becomes fixated to the bone in a process called osseointegration. Next, a metallic extension is then connected to the implant. This is where the robotic prosthesis connects to the living arm. Electrodes implanted in the nerves and muscles help control the prosthetic. These electrodes record touch signals that are transmitted via the implant to the brain.

The electrodes can pick up more muscle and nerve signals than electrodes on the skin. That means the patient can control the prosthesis with less effort than before. Maneuvering the robotic arm is also more precise, so he can handle smaller and more delicate items.

The implanted electrodes are less susceptible to various forms of electrical interference than previous implants. Because of that, the patient can now use devices that have an engine, such as a drill.

The man is better able to do a variety of tasks, from clamping a trailer to his truck to handling a ball. High five!