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Return of the Jedi

21 June 2018
Ian Slater discusses "The Luke Arm", the first prosthetic arm which allows a user to perform multiple movements simultaneously.

Given the @BIRGarage 's efforts to boldly go where no legal business has gone before I'm sure to have created confusion in my sci-fi metaphors by titling this article 'Return of the Jedi'

 

That said, if I'm being honest, I have to admit a personal preference for the Star Wars franchise and it's a title which has hopefully grabbed your attention.

On Wednesday last week I was lucky enough to attend Dorset Orthopaedics' catastrophic injury conference in Farnborough where there was a demonstration of the Luke Arm from Mobius Bionics. 

It is said to be the first prosthetic arm which allows a user to perform multiple movements simultaneously such as moving the elbow, rotating the wrist and opening the hand all at the same time: the arm contains 10 powered joints.

 

There is an option for multiple inputs to the arm so whilst electrical impulses from contracting muscles can signal movements to a processor within the arm at the same time additional movements can be controlled via a shoe mounted IMU Foot Control unit which reads the tilt of the user's shoe and interprets that like a joystick operating the arm.

 

A user can wear up to two IMU's (one on each foot) to send signals and dictate movements. I know it all sounds like a complicated recipe but certainly the demonstration which I saw worked amazingly well and the arm's project manager has gone on record to say that 10 minutes after putting the arm on users are able to pick things up.

 

It is perhaps easier for you to see this in operation so the link below will take you to a YouTube video of the arm. [Video]

 

The Luke arm is a modular device consisting of three sections [shoulder, humeral and radial] with users (depending on their level of loss) being able to use just one or all three sections which are each 'extendable' in length to be able to meet the user's requirements.

 

So where does the title come in? Well, Luke Arm pays homage to a certain Mr Skywalker and the cybernetic hand which he had fitted after his duel with Darth Vader. Now as a way of naming a new product you have to admit that's quite cool!

 

It isn't [yet] CE Certified so cannot be sold in the UK but Dorset Orthopaedic have a link with a US based clinic that will prescribe the arm and have already referred one patient.

 

The cost? Well it's enough to rival a George Lucas film budget at an eye watering $300,000 for a three section unit. I'm not aware of the warranty details.

 

Last but by no means least, a plea, if you have the opportunity please follow our new Twitter page @BIRGarage

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