The bionic arm is the future of prosthetics, and it's here today

Oct 07, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Alberta Health Services' Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital is pioneering a major advancement in upper-limb amputation surgery and rehabilitation with the Canadian debut of the Targeted Muscle Reinnervation procedure, or bionic arm.

The neuro-controlled bionic arm technology, developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, allows an amputee to move their prosthetic arm as if it were a real limb, allowing patients to use their prosthetic arm with more natural motion through thought-controlled movement. Rob Anderson, 31, from Grande Prairie and Larry Hayes-Richards, 62, from Edmonton are the first two patients in Canada to undergo this procedure.

"This world-class surgery and prosthetic technology opens a whole new world of possibilities to patients," said Jackie Hebert, clinical director of the Adult Amputee program at the Glenrose and professor in the U of A Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "The ultimate goal for any prosthetic is to enhance outcome from limb loss; to bridge the wide gap between the actual loss of function and prosthetic replacement. The bionic arm is the future of prosthetics, and it's here today."

To provide the thought-controlled movement, nerves located in the amputee's shoulder, once terminated in the amputated arm, are re-routed and connected to healthy muscle in the chest and surrounding muscles through a surgical process called targeted muscle reinnervation.

This procedure allows the re-routed nerves to grow into the appropriate muscle and direct the signals they once sent to the amputated arm instead to the prosthetic arm. When the patient thinks about moving his or her arm, the action is carried out as voluntarily as it would be in a healthy arm, allowing for smoother, more controlled movement of the prosthetic device.

"This is another great example of how Alberta is at the forefront of health care innovations," said Ron Liepert, minister of Health and Wellness.

The collaboration between Todd Kuiken at the RIC, Hebert and the targeted muscle reinnervation team at the GRH is a unique international partnership.

"The bionic arm is a revolution in prosthetic technology and the fact we're able to offer it in Alberta is indicative of our expertise in amputation surgery and rehabilitation," said Ken Hughes, chair of the Alberta Health Services Board. "Based on the success of the first two cases at the Glenrose, we expect to offer this procedure to at least five more patients this year."

Provided by University of Alberta

Explore further: Serotonin neuron subtypes: New insights could inform SIDS understanding, depression treatment

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

Dec 19, 2014

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed ...

Scientists developing electronic skin

May 30, 2014

Once a topic explored exclusively in science fiction, the notion of restoring sensory feelings to humans and to machines is now approaching reality. Scientists around the world are developing artificial organs ...

Students create robotic hand for boy, 8

Apr 27, 2014

Steele Songle was born without a left hand but has never let that hold him back from the thing he loves most - playing sports. And now, the 8-year-old from Wilmington, Delaware, who plays lacrosse and golf, swims, skis, and ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

fuchikoma
not rated yet Oct 07, 2008
That's great news... we have excellently skilled medics in this field in Alberta, but the health care system has been so gutted it's on the verge of crumbling thanks to Ralph Klein's move to suck health care and education dry...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.