New Prosthetic Arm Controlled Entirely By Brain
Biomedical engineering students from Ryerson; Michael Prywata and Thiago Caires, have created a prosthetic arm that is controlled by brain signals. The two undergraduate students are changing the medical prosthesis realm with their new device. The Artificial Muscle-Operated (AMO) Arm allows amputees more range of movement than your typical prosthetic arm and also allows amputees to avoid invasive surgeries, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The device is powered by artificial muscles simple pneumatic pumps and valves to create movements. The device uses compressed air as the main source of power. It makes use of signals in the brain that continue to fire even after a limb has been amputated. The user must wear a head-set that senses the thought and wirelessly transmits the message to the arm’s computer chip. The air is collected from a small tank in the user’s pocket. The two students are working on a way to integrate the air tank into the arm itself.
The biggest benefit of this device is that will cost 75% less than a traditional prosthesis, since it does not require microelectronics and motors. Another large benefit as previously mentioned is the lack of need for invasive surgeries (another very large cost of prosthesis implementation). Even better, it will only take a few minutes to learn how to use the AMO arm, rather than the weeks it takes with traditional prosthetic limbs.
The two students who met in 2009 were impressed with each others work and spent one year developing the software for the AMO arm, as well as a 72 hour “marathon” to design the prototype. The students enjoyed the top prize at the 2011 Ryerson Engineering Competition in Canada. The two students have formed their own company, called Bionik Laboratories Inc. and are seeking approval of three patents for the AMO arm as well as their other technologies.