Control Your Prosthetic Arm With Thought

Targeted Muscle Reinnervation: Control Your Prosthetic Arm With Thought

To say loss of an arm changes your life is an understatement. Tasks you once took for granted now pose a significant challenge. Prosthetic devices help, but they can be quite difficult to control, requiring unnatural movements of small chest muscles.

     RIC scientists have developed a surgical procedure to reassign nerves that once controlled the arm and hand you lost to your pectoral muscles. By reassigning these nerves, doctors can make it possible for people who have had upper-arm amputations to control their prosthetic devices by merely thinking about the action they want to perform. Onceexperimental, this innovative procedure is now available to the public.

People who undergo the targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) surgery will be fitted with and trained to use a commercially available myoelectric prosthetic arm. No experimental bionic arms are available at this time.

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Detailed knowledge of the forces in the human body are of crucial importance to thesuccessful design and implantation of prosthetic devices. For planning of rehabilitative exercises and development and prescription of orthotics devices, the influence of external forces in the internal equilibrium is of utmost importance. The AnyBody Modeling System is the ideal tool for this purpose because it is capable of capturing the true complexity of the musculoskeletal system.

Gait analysis

Gait analysis is one of the real success stories of biomechanics. Today, gait loboratories are used routinely for investigation of a variety of conditions, for diagnostics and planning of surgery, and for rehabilitation. However, traditional gait analysis is almost exclusively about kinematics. It is possible to compute joint moments in the open-chain mechanisms formed by the lower extremities, but traditional gait analysis reveals little if anything about the internal forces in the body. Musculoskeletal analysis, as it can be performed by the AnyBody Modeling System, has the potential to change this.

This example presents an analysis of a gait cycle documented by Vaughan, Davis and O’Connor in their textbook “Dynamics of Human Gait – 2nd edition”. The authors have kindly made the data available in the public domain on the homepage of the International Society of Biomechanics. We have used the dataset labeled “Man”. Because the AnyBody Modeling System has such general capabilities of driving the kinematics, we are able to control the movement directly by means of the recorded marker trajectories. You can see the markers on the figure as small blue and grey spheres.

Here is a disclaimer: What we present here is a demonstration model. We do not have the correct anthropometric data for the test subject, and consequently some amount of discrepancy must be expected. In particular, since we drive the model directly by markers, differences in the segment lengths between the test subject and the model may lead to errors in the kinematics.

The ground reaction forces are also a part of the data set, and they are applied under the feet at the moving pressure centers. The model is balanced by a reaction force on the pelvis. This means that the weight and inertia of the lacking upper body are automatically compensated for by the reaction forces.

For more info, visit:
1. AnyBody Technology Website:

2. AnyBody Research Project:


Bionic Man

In May 2001, working as a high-power lineman 54 year old Jesse Sullivan had a life changing event — he was electrocuted so severely that both of his arms needed to be amputated.

Now he’s the first Bionic Man on the Planet!

Bionic Man Moves Artificial Arm With Brain
Breakthrough Could Change Lives Of Amputees, Patients With Spinal Cord Injuries
POSTED: Thursday, June 23, 2005
UPDATED: 4:07 pm EDT June 23, 2005
CHICAGO — Researchers have developed artificial arms that can be moved as it if they were real limbs, simply by thinking about making them move, according to Local 6 News.
         The world’s first bionic man, Jesse Sullivan, 54, accidentally touched live wires while working as a utility lineman in Tennessee. He suffered severe burns, causing him to lose his arms.Now, Sullivan is the first to try out the most sophisticated artificial arms ever designed.Surgeons attached his arm nerves to healthy muscles in his chest.

        “So now when Jess thinks, close hand, the impulse is picked up by a transmitter, and goes to his hand,” doctor Todd Kuiken said. “He thinks, closes hand and it does.”Sullivan’s hand rotates 360 degrees, according to the report. When Sullivan’s brain tells his arm to do something, it’s done in seconds and he has feeling in the bionic arm.
       This gives me a lot of hope,” Sullivan said. “I was an independent kind of guy. I didn’t ask anybody for anything. If I could do it, I did it.”
Eventually tiny sensors in the fingertips will allow Sullivan to feel texture and temperature.Doctors at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago said the breakthrough could change the lives of amputees, patients with spinal cord injuries and stroke victims, according to the report.
By the time it’s perfected, the cost of manufacturing the bionic arm is expected to be about $6 million, according to the report.