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Bionic Arm Reads Brain's Signals

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the punch-through-walls dept.

Biotech 31

Zarf writes "Dr. Todd A. Kuiken and the Doctors of the Rehabilitation Institue of Chicago have successfully used the nerve endings from an amputee's lost arm to drive a bionic replacement. Details are in this CNN story. Although this isn't new surgical work it is a clever and practical use of existing technologies which hasn't been done before. It offers the promise of other interesting applications as well such as hands-free wheelchair use or even hands-free mousing. The doctors hope that in time this technology will lead to other bionic replacement limbs as well."

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Bionic limbs (2, Interesting)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 11 years ago | (#7067183)

Anybody remember Heinlein's character from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress? The one who worked on computers, and had a different bionic arm attachment for every job?

Red Dwarf (2, Interesting)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | about 11 years ago | (#7067229)

Kryten had this one beat - groinial attachments :) He even cooked with them

Re:Bionic limbs (1)

WTFmonkey (652603) | about 11 years ago | (#7067657)

Not as cool as Niven's "The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton." Although Gil's arm was imaginary. But hey, it worked for him.

Re:Bionic limbs (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 11 years ago | (#7074127)

Yes, Mann.

The arms were numbered and one of them functioned as a micro-manipulator---way cool.

I've always thought it rather a shame that the artificial limb thing wasn't touched upon in Victor Milan's _The Cybernetic Samurai_ (which had a character who read _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ well-nigh religiously---did do interesting things w/ her wheel chair though).


"To fire you must think in Russian." (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about 11 years ago | (#7067198)

Cool. Now I can fly a Soviet fighter jet with the "power of my mind" while leaving my hands free for Pr0 - er, eating!

Re:"To fire you must think in Russian." (1)

hummassa (157160) | about 11 years ago | (#7067447)

Oh, man, Eastwood (Firefox)! Gimme a break...

Well, (2, Interesting)

snubber1 (56537) | about 11 years ago | (#7067285)

I remember watching an episode of Nova where a dude had lost the use of his legs and one arm. They implanted some electrodes in his arm that allowed him to open and close the grip on the one hand by shrugging his sholder to activate a switch.

Later they experimented with a special hat that read brain waves and allowed him to learn to control a box on the screen up and down. Once he had mastered the binary up/down control by pure thought, they connected it to his arm and just by thinking he could open and close his hand as any normal man should.

steve austin (1)

andy666 (666062) | about 11 years ago | (#7067340)

finally i'll be able to get that bigfoot thing out of my vegetable garden!

Bigfoot ay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7067375)

That's not a bigfoot that's your brains on drugs!

Re:steve austin (1)

yRabbit (625397) | about 11 years ago | (#7070816)

Who needs a bionic arm? Just use a flamethrower, or a smartgun. Or a robotic bigfoot-seeking catapult.

welcome! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7067367)

i for one welcome our new armless robot overlord!

soliciting JO jokes.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7067384)

slashdotters, please provide me with clever responses. thankyou.

Cool! (3, Funny)

Alethes (533985) | about 11 years ago | (#7067412)

Looks like Viagra could get some real competition with a brainwave controlled "limb".

Impressive, but misleading post (3, Informative)

Jouni (178730) | about 11 years ago | (#7068371)

Going by the story; the doctors grafted the nerves for the amputated arm on to a minor muscle on the chest, and used sensors on top of the muscle to drive the bionic arm. Attaching directly to actual nerve-endings still bears a few too many challenges to be practical, but this is nevertheless an impressive step.

Now, this technology could also be used to drive biomechanic armored exoskeletons... :-)


Re:Impressive, but misleading post (3, Insightful)

meldroc (21783) | about 11 years ago | (#7068958)

This feat's nifty because now, when the user thinks about closing his hand, the way a non-amputee would think about closing his natural hand, the bionic hand closes. You don't have to shrug your shoulders or anything like that, you use the artificial limb in the same way you use a natural limb.

What about people going to jail? (1)

downix (84795) | about 11 years ago | (#7068561)

If a bionic, enhanced limb is availible, what happens when someone goes to jail? You can't just lop off the mans arm, can you?

Re:What about people going to jail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7069080)

You could disable/cripple them.

Re:What about people going to jail? (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | about 11 years ago | (#7069831)

Take out the battery?

Re:What about people going to jail? (1) (156602) | about 11 years ago | (#7069974)

In this particular case, it's not a problem; you just remove his prosthetic arms. His prosthetics are not actually attached to his body in any permanent way that would require surgery to remove. It's just strapped on like any other prosthetic.

Re:What about people going to jail? (1)

AllenChristopher (679129) | about 11 years ago | (#7070723)

Um, that IS a problem. It's going to stay a problem. While the thing is attached his nerves are gradually adjusting to its parameters, doing biofeedback. He'll get more and more coordinated with time until it is, eventually, part of him, even though it doesn't have feedback via nerves. By the time he can reach out for something naturally, without thinking about it, taking the limb away would be an invasion of the man's body and brain, true corporal punishment. I doubt it would be constitutional.

Ahh... (1)

Bob Vila's Hammer (614758) | about 11 years ago | (#7068602)

"Now, when Sullivan thinks about closing his hand, the nerve that used to make the hand close spurs a little piece of his chest muscle to contract."

In other news:
Circumventing hundreds of thousands of years of male instinct, scientists have finally achieved what evolution could not - the merging of the delightful thought of squeezing a breast into the simple act of closing your hand.

Thats it! (1)

EdMack (626543) | about 11 years ago | (#7068754)

When can I become a usb input device? I want to be serial, and hot pluggable!

What Fun (1)

EricV314a (581711) | about 11 years ago | (#7068898)

I don't want a bionic replacement, I want a bionic addition

Pr0n application! (1)

gooru (592512) | about 11 years ago | (#7069146)

How long until the first bionic penis? This would really make for some weird sci-fi porn.

Bionic Commando dreams (1)

code_echelon (709189) | about 11 years ago | (#7069204)

This is great, now I can live out my childhood dreams. I don't know if any of you have played the game Bionic Commando [] for the original Nintendo, now also on GameBoy. As a child I used to look up to my Bionic hero and now I can become him and live in a world where I will foil plots of wordly super villains.

could be interesting (1)

Ompaloskeptic (697688) | about 11 years ago | (#7069301)

We get far enough into this tecnology we can reach teh point where a computer will need no peripials and we'll just plug you into it. That would be cool and a bit creepy.

Ahh, but does that arm... (1)

Lars T. (470328) | about 11 years ago | (#7069305)

... make that dshuhdshuhdshuh-sound when he lifts the trucks with it?

Ash sums it up : (1)

ColaMan (37550) | about 11 years ago | (#7070596)

(Crushes cup with newly-made cybernetic hand)

The future is now! (1)

tambo (310170) | about 11 years ago | (#7071614)

Dr. Todd A. Kuiken and the Doctors of the Rehabilitation Institue of Chicago have successfully used the nerve endings from an amputee's lost arm to drive a bionic replacement.

The patient, who for privacy reasons only provided his first name of Anakin...

- David Stein

So... (1)

Tekichi (711520) | about 11 years ago | (#7076207)

How long until I can get a fully functional chrome arm with screwdrivers in the thumb and a lighter in the pinky?

Safety First! (1)

Solitonic (136324) | about 11 years ago | (#7076792)

Two years ago, a healthy Jesse Sullivan, 56, was at his job repairing utility lines when he accidentally touched a live wire, costing him both his arms up to his shoulders.

It's great that Mr. Sullivan survived his accident and could benefit from bionics. Electricity can be very beneficial but also very dangerous [] (warning: extremely graphic images). Technology is great, but it always has a dark side -- so be careful out there folks!

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