Future Prosthetic Technology

The biotech company Össur, announced the successful development of a bionic leg that is controlled by subconscious thoughts. This new technology employs implanted sensors that send wireless signals to the onboard computer of the prosthetic bionic foot, which activates the subconscious in the brain, which translates into real-time prosthetic control, resulting in more natural responses and movements. 

Adjacent limbs controlled by muscular stimuli have been in place since the late 1960s, but technology has severe limitations. The technology essentially works by placing sensors on the skin of the rudimentary limbs, which receive electrical pulses and then control an artificial member, such as an artificial hand. The problem is that sensors collect electrical stimuli from more than one muscle, which degrades performance, requires a lot of practice to work properly, and makes the prosthesis slow, inaccurate and frustrating in its use.

The problem is that the upper limbs use more of the conscious part of the brain to carry out their various tasks (such as picking up a glass or screwing something with a screwdriver, tasks that require great coordination), while we use the our lower limbs to go from one place to another and their control is done by the subconscious. Essentially the legs have to control themselves with the help of reflexes that are activated by the spinal cord and not by direct commands from the brain.

This new Osssur’s technology, through which the lower limbs are controlled, is intelligently added prostheses that are capable of “real-time” learning and are capable of adapting to the particular gait of the user, as well as the speed of walking but and soil morphology.

The control system works through implanted MyoElectric sensors (IMES), developed by the Alfred Mann Foundation. These sensors, which are in the size of a matchbox, are implanted into specific ruined muscle remnants, where a receptacle in the form of a wire coil, located inside the prosthetic leg, collects the electrical signals emitted by the sensors and the transmit wirelessly to the prosthetic limb computer.

Together the sensors and the prosthesis end act as a kind of spinal cord. Instead of knowingly controlling the prosthesis movements, the user subconsciously sends commands controlling the prosthetic member. Two volunteers used technology for one year as part of the First-in-Man research project. Both volunteers were positive in the use of technology with clinical trials continuing.

Please contact our knowledgeable staff at Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics for any prosthetic related questions. We’ve been providing expert orthotic and prosthetic services in Michigan since 1955 and have grown to more than 20 locations, including Traverse City, Cadillac, Grand Rapids, Petoskey and visit our new location in St. Joseph opening soon!

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