The number of researchers developing advanced prosthetics, particularly thought controlled limbs, is increasing rapidly. This can significantly impact the lives of many. In Johns Hopkins Universty’s Applied Physics Lab, a motorized arm with a five fingered hand that operates much like human hand is nearing completion.
Professor Michael McLoughlin and trauma surgeon Albert Chi have developed a technique known as targeted innervations—in which nerves can be rerouted through spare muscle, allowing amputees to operate motorized prosthetics using motor commands. In a recent surgery, Dr. Chi successfully combined this technique with the aforementioned prosthetic.
“The body is amazing in terms of its will to return to normal function,” Chi says. “When you have a missing limb, all the information is there, but the body has no way to get it out. So we rerouted the pathway for that information so that it can be expressed.”