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Biotech Innovations
June 9, 2020

Bionic Arm With Real-Time Sensation

JAMA. 2020;323(22):2239. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.8836

Researchers recently reported that 4 men with transhumeral amputations have used a self-contained robotic arm with sensory feedback in daily life for several years. The prosthetic’s hand has sensation, allowing the men to do complex tasks such as ski, repair cars, and canoe. One man became employed full-time thanks to the arm’s improved functionality, and patients also reported complete relief of phantom limb pain.

The researchers replaced mechanical components in the patients’ existing prosthetic arms with electrical ones that provide communication between the prosthesis and electrodes that were surgically implanted in the men’s upper-arm nerves and muscles in a 6- to 8-hour procedure. The prosthetic is anchored in bone at the amputation site and requires no external batteries, wires, or equipment.