A wounded warrior at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) used a new prosthetic arm, operated by an individual’s thoughts, on January 24.
The Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) was developed as part of a four-year program by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), the WRNMMC, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).
The nine-pound device has almost as much dexterity as a natural limb and is capable of 22 degrees of motion and independent movement of fingers. It was used by a wounded warrior, who maneuvered its metallic fingers and wrist.
Col. (Dr.) Paul Pasquina, chief of Orthopaedics and Prosthetics at WRNMMC and director for the Center of Rehabilitation Sciences at USU, said: “We’ve been working with [the APL] since the start of this project and we’re very excited about the opportunity [to have] our first individual using this hand… We believe very strongly that those who are willing to put their lives in harm’s way deserve the very best. Through this revolutionizing project, we’ve worked with the greatest manufacturers across the globe to come up with modern solutions to loss of an upper limb.”
Dr. Pasquina shared further that the MPL is controlled by surface electrodes. These electrodes detect electric signals generated by the muscles under the skin; these patterns in electrical signals are then converted into a robotic function.
The first patient who tried the MPL was Air Force Tech Sgt. Joe Delauriers, who said that the device was “pretty comfortable.” He shared: “It’s really fun working with the hand and [exciting] to see what’s going to be coming in the future… Any input I can put into the program, to help them out, and future amputees, it’s an honor for me. It’s very rewarding.”