Science has given us all sorts of cool things: video games, space travel, ketchup caps that can keep the water out of that first squeeze. Now it can apparently give a double-amputee the arms that he lost more than 40 years ago.
An electrical accident cost Les Baugh both of his arms but a new research project at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has come up with an innovative way to give him two robotic arms that he can control the same way that a person with a normal, functioning set of arms does every day. The arms are attached to the nerves in his shoulders so he can control the arms with his brain. This makes him the first “shoulder-level amputee” to have such a device attached to his body. Doctors at Johns Hopkins let Baugh take the arms for his first test run and the project seems to be a rousing success…
Of course, there are still some limitations to the arms’ design. They don’t move as fluidly as a normal set of arms and they aren’t as responsive, even if they are the most innovative set of prosthetic limbs ever made. Every movement of the robotic arms and fingers also requires a single motion so he has to pause between movements. Johns Hopkins’ doctors, however, are very optimistic about the possibilities and expect them to be able to produce an improved version that people like Baugh can actually start using in the next five to 10 years.
Baugh said he’s just looking forward to being able to do the little things in his life that he couldn’t before he lost his arms like pay for a can of soda out of a vending machine with his own two arms, things that so many of us take for granted.
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