The first dexterous and sentient hand prosthesis has been successfully implanted

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

Summary:A Swedish patient with hand amputation has become the first recipient of an osseo-neuromuscular implant to control a dexterous hand prosthesis. In a pioneering surgery, titanium implants were placed in the two forearm bones (radius and ulnar), from which electrodes to nerves and muscle were extended to extract signals to control a robotic hand and to provide tactile sensations. This makes it the first clinically viable, dexterous and sentient prosthetic hand usable in real life.

A female Swedish patient with hand amputation has become the first recipient of an osseo-neuromuscular implant to control a dexterous hand prosthesis. In a pioneering surgery, titanium implants were placed in the two forearm bones (radius and ulnar), from which electrodes to nerves and muscle were extended to extract signals to control a robotic hand and to provide tactile sensations. This makes it the first clinically viable, dexterous and sentient prosthetic hand usable in real life. The breakthrough is part of the European project DeTOP.

The new implant technology was developed in Sweden by a team lead by Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan at Integrum AB — the company behind the first bone-anchored limb prosthesis using osseointegration — and Chalmers University of Technology. This first-of-its-kind surgery, led by Prof. Rickard Brånemark and Dr. Paolo Sassu, took place at Sahlgrenska University Hospital as part of a larger project funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020 called DeTOP (GA #687905).

The DeTOP project is coordinated by Prof. Christian Cipriani at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, and also includes Prensilia, the University of Gothenburg, Lund University, University of Essex, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology, INAIL Prosthetic Center, Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, and the Instituto Ortopedico Rizzoli.

Conventional prosthetic hands rely on electrodes placed over the skin to extract control signals from the underlying stump muscles. These superficial electrodes deliver limited and unreliable signals that only allow control of a couple of gross movements (opening and closing the hand). Richer and more reliable information can be obtained by implanting electrodes in all remaining muscle in the stump instead. Sixteen electrodes were implanted in this first patient in order to achieve more dexterous control of a novel prosthetic hand developed in Italy by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and Prensilia.

Current prosthetic hands have also limited sensory feedback. They do not provide tactile or kinesthetic sensation, so the user can only rely on vision while using the prosthesis. Users cannot tell how strongly an object is grasped, or even when contact has been made. By implanting electrodes in the nerves that used to be connected to the lost biological sensors of the hand, researchers can electrically stimulate these nerves in a similar manner as information conveyed by the biological hand. This results in the patient perceiving sensations originating in the new prosthetic hand, as it is equipped with sensors that drive the stimulation of the nerve to deliver such sensations.

One of the most important aspects of this work is that this is the first technology usable in daily life. This means it is not limited to a research laboratory. The Swedish group — Integrum AB and Chalmers University of Technology — have previously demonstrated that control of a sentient prosthesis in daily life was possible in above-elbow amputees using similar technology. This was not possible in below-elbow amputees where there are two smaller bones rather than a single larger one as in the upper arm. This posed several challenges on the development of the implant system. On the other hand, it also presents an opportunity to achieve a more dexterous control of an artificial replacement. This is because many more muscles are available to extract neural commands in below-elbow amputations.

Bones weaken if they are not used (loaded), as commonly happen after amputation. The patient is following a rehabilitation program to regain the strength in her forearm bones to be able to fully load the prosthetic hand. In parallel, she is also relearning how to control her missing hand using virtual reality, and in few weeks, she will be using a prosthetic hand with increasing function and sensations in her daily life. Two more patients will be implanted with this new generation of prosthetic hands in the upcoming months, in Italy and Sweden.

“Several advanced prosthetic technologies have been reported in the last decade, but unfortunately they have remained as research concepts used only for short periods of time in controlled environments” says Dr. Ortiz Catalan, Assoc. Prof. at Chalmers University of the Technology and head of the Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Lab, who has led this development since its beginning 10 years ago, initially in above-elbow amputations. “The breakthrough of our technology consists on enabling patients to use implanted neuromuscular interfaces to control their prosthesis while perceiving sensations where it matters for them, in their daily life.”


Source of the article:

Open Bionics’ 3D-printed prosthetic arm is now available in the US

Hero Arm debuted in the UK last year.
by Christine Fisher
Open Bionics

One year after Open Bionics began selling its 3D-printed Hero Armprosthetic in the UK, the bionic arm is available in the US. Open Bionics has made a name for itself as a start-up specializing in low-cost prosthetics, and you might remember it as the company behind arms inspired by Iron Man, Star Wars, Frozen and Deus Ex. But until now, the Hero Arm has only been available in the UK and France.


Thanks to 3D scanning and printing, Open Bionics can custom build each arm, and do so faster and cheaper than its competitors. According to the company, Hero Arm’s muscle sensors enable lifelike precision and multiple grips. Motors allow for haptic feedback and beepers and lights provide other notifications to the wearer. Even with all of that technology, the arm weighs less than a kilogram, and it can be used by anyone over the age of eight. You can see more of the features in the video below.

A prosthetic that restores the sense of where your hand is

Source: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Summary: Researchers have developed a next-generation bionic hand that allows amputees to regain their proprioception. The results of the study are the culmination of ten years of robotics research.

The next-generation bionic hand, developed by researchers from EPFL, the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa and the A. Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome, enables amputees to regain a very subtle, close-to-natural sense of touch. The scientists managed to reproduce the feeling of proprioception, which is our brain’s capacity to instantly and accurately sense the position of our limbs during and after movement — even in the dark or with our eyes closed.

The new device allows patients to reach out for an object on a table and to ascertain an item’s consistency, shape, position and size without having to look at it. The prosthesis has been successfully tested on several patients and works by stimulating the nerves in the amputee’s stump. The nerves can then provide sensory feedback to the patients in real time — almost like they do in a natural hand.

The findings have been published in the journal Science Robotics. They are the result of ten years of scientific research coordinated by Silvestro Micera, a professor of bioengineering at EPFL and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, and Paolo Maria Rossini, director of neuroscience at the A. Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome.

Sensory feedback

Current myoelectric prostheses allow amputees to regain voluntary motor control of their artificial limb by exploiting residual muscle function in the forearm. However, the lack of any sensory feedback means that patients have to rely heavily on visual cues. This can prevent them from feeling that their artificial limb is part of their body and make it more unnatural to use.

Recently, a number of research groups have managed to provide tactile feedback in amputees, leading to improved function and prosthesis embodiment. But this latest study has taken things one step further.

“Our study shows that sensory substitution based on intraneural stimulation can deliver both position feedback and tactile feedback simultaneously and in real time,” explains Micera. “The brain has no problem combining this information, and patients can process both types in real time with excellent results.”

Intraneural stimulation re-establishes the flow of external information using electric pulses sent by electrodes inserted directly into the amputee’s stump. Patients then have to undergo training to gradually learn how to translate those pulses into proprioceptive and tactile sensations.

This technique enabled two amputees to regain high proprioceptive acuity, with results comparable to those obtained in healthy subjects. The simultaneous delivery of position information and tactile feedback allowed the two amputees to determine the size and shape of four objects with a high level of accuracy (75.5%).

“These results show that amputees can effectively process tactile and position information received simultaneously via intraneural stimulation,” says Edoardo D’Anna, EPFL researcher and lead author of the study.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Edoardo D’Anna, Giacomo Valle, Alberto Mazzoni, Ivo Strauss, Francesco Iberite, Jérémy Patton, Francesco M. Petrini, Stanisa Raspopovic, Giuseppe Granata, Riccardo Di Iorio, Marco Controzzi, Christian Cipriani, Thomas Stieglitz, Paolo M. Rossini, Silvestro Micera. A closed-loop hand prosthesis with simultaneous intraneural tactile and position feedback. Science Robotics, 2019; 4 (27): eaau8892 DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aau8892
Source of the Article: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. “A prosthetic that restores the sense of where your hand is.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2019. <>.

Bath boy campaigns to recycle prosthetic legs

An 11-year-old amputee is championing a charity’s campaign to recycle children’s prosthetic legs.

Euan Murray, from Bath, was born with a birth defect that meant his left leg had to be amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.

He realised his outgrown legs could benefit others and has donated 10 old prosthetic legs through Legs4Africa.

“I feel proud because I was once wearing these and I’m giving them to people that really need them,” he said.

“The prosthetic leg enables me to do everything I’m passionate for, which is mainly sport.

“If I didn’t have a leg and I was still an amputee, I would be a very different person because I would be stuck in a wheelchair and I would miss out on a lot.”

Euan playing a drum kit at homeCREATED BY TEN
Euan’s mum found out about the charity on social media and he immediately wanted to donate his old legs

Tom Williams, founder of the Bristol-based charity, said Euan was doing “a fantastic thing”.

“I never fail to be full of admiration for the little ones who accept their new leg as part of their life and don’t allow it to define who they are,” he said.

“There is a huge demand for components to build children’s prosthetics in Africa.”

The charity collects and recycles prosthetic limbs sourced from UK hospitals and private donors and then ships them to Africa where they are adapted and fitted by trained technicians at partnering hospitals.

One of Euan’s legs has been given to Wudeh, a seven-year-old girl in The Gambia whose leg was amputated following a car accident.

Euan and his family have seen pictures of Wudeh on Facebook wearing his old leg which he said was “really amazing”.

Euan issued a direct message to Wudeh, saying: “I hope this leg enables you to do everything it helped me to do and it brings you happiness in your life.”

Wudeh with one of Euan's old prosthetic legsCREATED BY TEN
Wudeh now has one of Euan’s old prosthetic legs
source of the Article:

Capturing Touch for Prosthetic Limbs Through Artificial Skin

Luke E. Osborn and Nitish V. Thakor

Those living with upper limb differences face numerous challenges, including lost limb movement and dexterity as well as missing sensory information during object manipulation. From a user’s perspective, upper limb prostheses still have several issues with control, general discomfort from the socket, and lack of sensory feedback 1. Significant efforts have resulted in sophisticated algorithms for decoding intended prosthesis movements along multiple degrees of freedom that have enabled amputees to regain more dexterous prosthesis control 2. Another seminal advancement is targeted muscle reinnervation surgery 3, which targets nerves to different intact muscle groups such as on the chest to provide a source of well differentiated myoelectric signals for prosthesis control.

Lack of sensory information and feedback has limited the perceptual capability of the amputees. Major advancements were made in 2014 when researchers used implanted stimulating electrodes to provide sensory information back to an upper limb amputee for detecting different objects during grasping 4, conveying pressure information to complete dexterous manipulation of a fragile object 5, and general tactile activation 6.

Touch Complexity

Sensory information, specifically touch, is an extremely complex and multifaceted percept that remains difficult to completely capture. Thousands of receptors in our hands work together to pass tactile information from our fingertips to the spinal cord and into the somatosensory regions of the cortex. For upper limb amputees, the peripheral nerves and feedback to the brain still exist, but these pathways are disrupted at the receptor level in the residual limb. Researchers can take advantage of the remaining intact neural pathways to provide some element of tactile information back to an amputee. One challenge is how to convey specific tactile information by stimulating remaining peripheral nerves either through the skin or directly. However, the disrupted distribution of the receptors in the amputee’s skin and their complex tactile encoding, both individually and as a population, make it hard to replicate complex touch sensations.

Tactile information is captured by various receptors in the skin. Mechanoreceptors are responsible for our ability to perceive sensations such as pressure, texture, vibration, and stretch whereas muscle spindles and Golgi tendons drives our innate ability to perceive position (i.e. proprioception). Thermoceptors convey sensations of temperature while nociceptors enable us to feel mechanical pain, such as a sharp prick or a cut 7. Researchers have been able to provide sensory percepts of pressure 4,5,8, vibrations 8, texture 9, illusory movements 10, and now even pain 11 to upper limb amputees. Extensive knowledge gained from studying skin receptor properties has spurred the development of artificial electronic skin (e-skin) and more specifically the electronic dermis (e-dermis).

Artificial Skin

Researchers have previously developed artificial electronic skins that take advantage of the developments in flexible electronics12,13 to produce e-skins. In one such implementation, the digital mechanoreceptor inspired sensor translates pressure into oscillatory spikes 14, and in another implementation the oscillatory output drives nerve stimulation of an artificial afferent in an invertebrate 15. Most advances in sensors and artificial skins are focused on materials and electronics and typically do not incorporate sensory feedback to a prosthesis or amputee. For upper limb prostheses, one challenge is translating the response of an artificial skin into meaningful sensory information to the user by mimicking the natural sensory encoding of touch.

E-dermis for Perception of Touch and Pain

Using biology as a model, we developed a multilayered electronic dermis (e-dermis) for capturing a range of tactile perceptions at the fingertips of a prosthetic hand. We implemented a neuromorphic model to transform the e-dermis measurements to biologically relevant spiking activity for nerve stimulation, which was then used for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to provide sensory feedback (Fig. 1A). A neuromorphic system is one that attempts to mimic components of a neural system through digital signals, in this case representing touch. The idea behind this implementation is to try and capture actual receptor characteristics to convey tactile information to an amputee.

The e-dermis mimics the skin and its receptors in several ways: it has an array of sensors (receptors); the sensors are arranged over multiple layers (Fig. 1B); it produces receptor like signals; and it encodes sensor information the manner encoded by nerves. The e-dermis was made up of piezoresistive fabric (Eeonyx), which was placed between intersecting conductive traces (LessEMF) to create pressure sensitive taxels. A 1-mm layer of silicone rubber (Dragon Skin 10, Smooth-On) was added between the epidermal and dermal layers of the e-dermis and a 2-mm rubber layer added protection and compliance to the fingertip e-dermis.

Our goal was to model the skin and its receptors, and to mimic the range of perceptions from light touch to noxious, or painful. To detect pressure and pain, we treated the epidermal (upper) layer of the e-dermis as a nociceptor and the sensing elements in the dermal (bottom) layer as mechanoreceptors. The neuromorphic output from the e-dermis was then used as the stimulation signal for sensory feedback.

To understand the sensory perceptions perceived by an amputee during nerve stimulation. We performed sensory mapping of the phantom hand of one amputee as well as a quantification of the various sensory perceptions, including discomfort resulting from stimulation at a noxious level produced by controlling different stimulation parameters. Additional details can be found in 11.

To evaluate the ability of the amputee wearing the prosthesis to differentiate between tactile pressure and pain, we used 3 objects of varying curvature for a simple prosthesis grasping task (Fig. 2A). The prosthesis was able to reliably detect pain when grasping the sharpest item (Fig, 2B). Indeed, the prosthesis responded with a reflex to drop the object, similar to what happens in biology when we experience pain (i.e. withdrawal reflex). In another experiment where the user’s vision was occluded from the object being grasped, the sharper object was perceived by the user as being more painful (Fig. 2C).

One question that should be addressed: why pain? Our perception of pain is valuable because it protects our bodies by conveying information on things in our environment that are potentially damaging or harmful. A prosthetic arm doesn’t have this ability. Our recent research investigated how the idea of sensing pain could potentially benefit a prosthesis user. Because a prosthesis doesn’t have the ability to heal itself, we created a prosthesis pain reflex to compliment the sensory information being sent back to the user. In a way, this additional sensation of pain enables the prosthesis itself to become a little more lifelike and “self-aware” in its ability to understand the environment. At the same time, the tactile information being sent back to the user hopefully helps create a more realistic and feature-rich sensation of touch.

The combination of the biologically inspired e-dermis with neuromorphic stimulation models attempts to capture some of the nuanced characteristics of natural receptors, specifically those that convey innocuous and noxious signals. As upper limb prostheses continue to advance we turn to the human body as a template for developing sophisticated sensors and techniques for making these prosthetic devices more lifelike. Recreating the complex sensation of touch requires continued research of how nerve stimulation is perceived by a prosthesis user as well as how we can more accurately convey artificial neural signals that can be perceived as natural sensations.


This work was partially funded by the Space@Hopkins funding initiative through Johns Hopkins University. The results of this study were published in the June 2018 edition of Science Robotics:

Osborn, L. E., Dragomir, A., Betthauser, J. L., Hunt, C. L., Nguyen, H. H., Kaliki, R. R., & Thakor, N. V. Prosthesis with neuromorphic multilayered e-dermis perceives touch and pain. Science Robotics, 2018;3(19):eaat3818. DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aat3818.


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  3. Kuiken, T. A. et al. Targeted reinnervation for enhanced prosthetic arm function in a woman with a proximal amputation: a case study. Lancet. 2007;369(9559):371-80. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60193-7.
  4. Raspopovic, S. et al. Restoring natural sensory feedback in real-time bidirectional hand prostheses. Science Translational Medicine. 2014;6(222):222ra19. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006820.
  5. Tan, D. W. et al. A neural interface provides long-term stable natural touch perception. Science Translational Medicine. 2014;6(257):257ra138. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008669.
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  8. Wendelken, S. et al. Restoration of motor control and proprioceptive and cutaneous sensation in humans with prior upper-limb amputation via multiple utah slanted electrode arrays (USEAs) implanted in residual peripheral arm nerves. Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation. 2017;14(1):121. DOI: 10.1186/s12984-017-0320-4.
  9. Oddo, C. M. et al. Intraneural stimulation elicits discrimination of textural features by artificial fingertip in intact and amputee humans. eLife. 2016;5:e09148. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.09148.
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  11. Osborn, L. E. et al. Prosthesis with neuromorphic multilayered e-dermis perceives touch and pain. Science Robotics. 2018;3(19):eaat3818. DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aat3818.
  12. Kim, J. et al. Stretchable silicon nanoribbon electronics for skin prosthesis. Nature Communications. 2014;5:5747. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6747.
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Luke Osborn
Luke Osborn, MSE, is a PhD student in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. His research in the Neuroengineering and Biomedical Instrumentation Lab focuses on developing tactile sensing technologies, neuromorphic modeling of sensory information, and sensory feedback for upper limb prostheses. He is a student member of the IEEE.

Nitish Thakor
Nitish Thakor, PhD, is a professor of biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and neurology at Johns Hopkins and directs the Laboratory for Neuroengineering. He is also the director the Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology (SINAPSE) at the National University of Singapore. His research focus is in the field of neuroengineering, including neural diagnostic instrumentation, neural microsystems, neural signal processing, optical imaging of the nervous system, neural control of prostheses, and brain-machine interfaces. He is a recipient of a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the US National Science Foundation. He is a founding fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and fellow of the IEEE.

About BrainInsight

BrainInsight, the IEEE Brain Initiative eNewsletter, is a quarterly online publication, featuring practical and timely information and forward-looking commentary on neurotechnologies. BrainInsight describes recent breakthroughs in research, primers on methods of interests, or report recent events such as conferences or workshops.

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Solar-powered synthetic skin could give robots a sense of touch and allow amputees to feel again

Synthetic skin capable of touch sensitivity could make smart prosthetic hands more useful for amputees


By Andrea Powell

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN prosthetic and real is shrinking. Thanks to advances in batteries, brain-controlled robotics, and AI, today’s mechanical limbs can do everything from twist and point to grab and lift. And this isn’t just good news for amputees. “For something like bomb disposal, why not use a robotic arm?” says Justin Sanchez, manager of Darpa’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. Well, that would certainly be handy.

Brain-Operated Arm

Capable of: Touching hands, reaching out
Mind-controlled limbs aren’t new, but University of Pittsburgh scientists are working on an arm that can feel. Wires link the arm and brain, so when pressure is applied, a signal alerts the sensory cortex.

Hand That Sees

Capable of: Looking for an opportunity
Researchers at Newcastle University have designed a hand with a tiny camera that snaps pics of objects in its view. Then an AI determines an action. Like, grasp that beer and raise it to my mouth.

The Linx

Capable of: Climbing every mountain
Unlike older lower-limb prosthetics, the Linx can tell when it’s sitting in a chair. At just under 6 pounds, it relies on seven sensors that collect data on activity and terrain, helping the leg adapt to new situations.


Capable of: Making rude gestures
It’s the only prosthetic hand with air-bubbled fingertips—great for typing and handling delicate objects (like eggs). And because individual motors power natural movements, wearers can flip the bird in an instant.

The Michelangelo

Capable of: Painting masterpieces
Whereas many prosthetics have a stiff thumb, Ottobock designed this model with a secondary drive unit in the fattest finger—making it opposable. So it’s easier to hold, say, a paintbrush. Big thumbs up!

The LUKE Arm

Capable of: Wielding lightsabers
Yep, LUKE as in Skywalker. The Life Under Kinetic Evolution arm is the first muscle- controlled prosthetic to be cleared by the FDA. With up to 10 motors in the arm, the Force is definitely with this one.

Source of the Article:

Teen builds his own robotic prosthetic arm using Lego

By Blanca Rodriguez

Image result for teen builds prosthetic arm with lego

David Aguilar has built himself a robotic prosthetic arm using Lego pieces after being born without a right forearm due to a rare genetic condition.

Aguilar, 19, who studies bioengineering at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunyain Spain, is already using his fourth model of the colourful prosthetic and his dream is to design affordable robotic limbs for those who need them.

Once his favourite toys, the plastic bricks became the building material for Aguilar’s first, still very rudimentary, artificial arm at the age of nine, and each new version had more movement capability than the one before.

“As a child, I was very nervous to be in front of other guys, because I was different, but that didn’t stop me believing in my dreams,” Aguilar, who is from Andorra, a tiny principality between Spain and France, told Reuters.

“I wanted to … see myself in the mirror like I see other guys, with two hands,” said Aguilar, who uses the artificial arm only occasionally and is self-sufficient without it.

All the versions are on display in his room in the university residence on the outskirts of Barcelona. The latest models are marked MK followed by the number — a tribute to the comic book superhero Iron Man and his MK armour suits.

Aguilar, who uses Lego pieces provided by a friend, proudly displayed a red-and-yellow, fully functional robotic arm built when he was 18, bending it in the elbow joint and flexing the grabber as the electric motor inside whirred.

A presentation video on his YouTube channel that he runs under the nickname “Hand Solo” says his aim is to show people that nothing is impossible and disability cannot stop them.

After graduating from university, he wants to create affordable prosthetic solutions for people who need them.

“I would try to give them a prosthetic, even if it’s for free, to make them feel like a normal person, because what is normal, right?”

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Cardiff boy, 7, finally walks after losing both legs aged 3

Romeo was diagnosed with purpura fulminans after complaining of leg pain

Romeo Hadley was three years old when he lost both his legs.

Now seven, after 18 months of hard work, he can walk on prosthetic limbs.

Romeo had complained of leg pains before he was diagnosed with purpura fulminans, a thrombotic condition that causes necrosis and blood coagulation.

“He had to lose his legs to stay alive…. although that sounds devastating and awful we took him home and that was enough for us,” explained his mother Katie Hadley, from Cardiff.

The experience of seeing her son so unwell has stayed with her.

Romeo in hospitalImage copyrightFAMILY HANDOUT
Image captionRomeo spent six months in hospital

“It was horrendous and I will never forget it, and even speaking about it now… we don’t speak about it, we stay very positive for Romeo because he is positive,” she said.

“He’s an amazing little boy who’s very very lucky to be alive. So we don’t go back to that time to be honest.”

Romeo spent six months in hospital before he was able to come home. But adapting to life without his legs was hard.

By October 2017, he was able to stand on his prosthetics but did not enjoy using them at home so Mrs Hadley arranged for him to start taking them into school.

Romeo learned to walk on his prosthetics at school

A year later she received a video of Romeo finally walking without a frame with the assistance of his teacher.

“I was blown away,” she said.

“My husband and I, our whole family, [my daughter] Seren, everyone, was so emotional to see how well he’s done.

“If he can do that now, what can he do in the future?”

The Hadley family
Image caption The Hadley family from left to right: Jonathan, Seren, Romeo and Katie

Romeo loves playing football and dreams of being a professional basketball player.

“My husband and I are here to just make him psychologically strong enough to cope with life in the future,” said Mrs Hadley.

“Romeo loves life, he’s gorgeous, and he’s absolutely the happiness in this house.

“He gets on with life… he enjoys every single moment.”

Romeo’s mother says he is lucky to be alive

Source of the article:


By Eric Niller


ANDREW RUBIN SITS with a Surface tablet, watching a white skeletal hand open and close on its screen. Rubin’s right hand was amputated a year ago, but he follows these motions with a special device fitted to his upper arm.

Electrodes on his arm connect to a box that records the patterns of nerve signals firing, allowing Rubin to train a prosthetic limb to act like a real hand. “When I think of closing a hand, it’s going to contract certain muscles in my forearm,” he says. “The software recognizes the patterns created when I flex or extend a hand that I do not have.”

The 49-year-old college professor from Washington, DC, drives several times a month to Infinite Biomedical Technologies, a Baltimore startup company that is using deep learning algorithms to recognize the signals in his upper arm that correspond with various hand movements.

Each year, more than 150,000 people have a limb amputated after an accident or for various medical reasons. Most people are then fitted with a prosthetic device that can recognize a limited number of signals to control a hand or foot, for example.

But Infinite and another firm are taking advantage of better signal processing, pattern recognition software and other engineering advances to build new prosthetic controllers that might give Rubin and others an easier life. The key is boosting the amount of data the prosthetic arm can receive, and helping it interpret that information. “The goal for most patients is to get more than two functions, say open or close, or a wrist turn. Pattern recognition allows us to do that,” says Rahul Kaliki, CEO of Infinite. “We are now capturing more activity across the limb.”

Kaliki’s team of 14 employees are building the electronics that go inside other companies’ prosthetic arms. Infinite’s electronic control system, called Sense, records data from up to eight electrodes on his upper arm. Through many hours of training on the company’s tablet app, the device can detect the intent encoded in Rubin’s nerve signals when he moves his upper arm in a certain way. Sense then instructs his prosthetic hand to assume the appropriate grip.

Last Friday, Infinite’s Kaliki received notice from FDA officials that Sense had been approved for sale in the United States. Kaliki says he expects to begin installing them in prosthetic limbs by the end of November. In 2017, FDA officials approved a similar system by Chicago-based Coapt. Today more than 400 people are using the system at home, according to CEO Blair Lock.


Lock started as an engineer 13 years ago at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, an affiliate of Northwestern University. He worked with surgeons who were repairing nerve damage in amputee patients. Over time, he realized that building better prosthetics would be easier if he could figure out a way to pick up better signals from the body, he says. “What’s new is providing a much more natural, more intuitive method of control using [bio-electronic] signals,” Lock says.

In earlier versions of prosthetic devices, electrodes recorded signal strengths “but it was like listening to an orchestra and only knowing how loud the instruments are playing,” Lock says. “It was a significant effort to learn the content and fidelity of the signals.” The Coapt system works inside an amputee’s prosthetic hand and costs about $10,000 to $15,000, depending on the amount of customization needed. Artificial limbs can costs anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000, according to Lock.

Nicole Kelly got a new prosthetic device with the Coapt control system about a year ago. Now the 28-year-old Chicagoan can grind fresh pepper into her food and hold playing cards with friends. She can also open a beer.

“For many things, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do them before, but suddenly I can do them much easier,” says Kelly, who was born without her lower left arm.nHer prosthetic “is not my body, and it’s not 100 percent natural,” she said. “There’s a learning curve of my body communicating with this technology. Even the process of the best way to hold the salt and pepper shakers, I am essentially doing it for the first time.”

Source of the Article: