Futuristic technology is steadily making its way into our world and greatly improving our daily lives. Two amputees are now able to walk around thanks bionic prosthetic legs that they control using nothing more than the power of their mind.
The technology, developed by Icelandic orthopedics company Ossur, works by implanting tiny myoelectric sensors (IMES) into the patient’s residual muscle tissue. When signals from the brain reach the base of the person’s actual leg, the myoelectric sensors pick up the signals and transmit them to the bionic prosthetic leg.
The process is instantaneous, there’s absolutely no delay, no gap between intention and action.
Two Icelandic patients, Gudmundar Olaffson and David Ingvason, had the myoelectric sensors implanted, and the company is very happy with the results.
Jon Sigurdsson, Ossur President & CEO, proudly announced earlier today (May 20) in Copenhagen that the two patients mentioned above are the world’s first amputees to be able to control their lower-limb prostheses subconsciously.
Gudmundar Olaffson, 48, was hit by an oil truck when he was still a child, causing him to lose the use of his right ankle in a tragic accident. He struggled with the pain for 28 years and underwent over 50 operations before deciding to cut it off completely.
About 14 months ago he started testing Ossur’s technology. He gave a statement, praising it for its efficiency:
“As soon as I put my foot on, it took me about 10 minutes to get control of it. I could stand up and just walk away. Come back, sit down, use my muscles to move my foot in the position I wanted to use it. It was, like you couldn’t believe the feeling when you were moving your ankle. It was really strange. I couldn’t explain it. It was like, I was moving it with my muscles, there was nobody else doing it, the foot was not doing it, I was doing it, so it was really strange and overwhelming”.
Even when Olaffson put on a different prosthesis that did not have the receiver, the signals sent from the brain to nerve-endings in muscles still continued. He admited that it was a very frustrating experience not to be able to move the way he did with the Proprio Foot.
Olaffson also added that even now, his body keeps adapting to the bionic prosthetic a little more every day, and that the more he uses it, the more he learns and the more in control he feels.
Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, orthopedic surgeon, and Ossur’s director of research and development, said the the company’s ultimate goal is to replace the function of the lost limb, and informed that they are currently working on trying to get the bionic prosthetics to get sensing from the environment so that users will be able to have a feedback loop.
The myoelectric sensors themselves measure 5 millimeters long and 3 millimeters wide, and were provided by Alfred Mann Foundation, known for developing medical technology for use in patients.
Ossur has announced plans to start clinical trials, and predicts that the technology will be available on the market within three to five years.
Image Source: wired.com