Iceland-based prosthetics manufacturer, Össur, is one step closer to bringing mind-controlled prosthetics to the market. Late last year, the company teamed up with the Alfred Mann Foundation (AMF), a non-profit dedicated to developing medical technologies that will be accessible to the public. The partnership will allow Össur to license and develop the foundation’s implanted myoelectric sensor (IMES) and explore the potential of mind-controlled prosthetics.
The technology works, according to AMF, by implanting the sensors in “muscles that directly control the desired movement of a bionic prosthetic limb. The implants sense a small electrical charge in the muscle tissue and send information wirelessly to the prosthetic limb when the user intends to make specific movements. As a result, the bionic limb responds with the desired movement in virtually the same way that a sound arm, hand, or leg would respond.”
Initial tests have already been conducted in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, US soldiers who were upper-limb amputees tested the technology using Össur’s i-Limb bionic prosthetic hands. They were the first in the world to test the IMES system. The following year, two lower-limb amputees from Iceland tested and evaluated the sensors.
The test subjects had IMES units surgically implanted into their residual muscle tissue, which allowed them to control their Össur prosthetic legs with their minds.
The IMES also proved successful in amputees who had undergone targeted muscle re-innervation (TMR) surgery.
Insights gathered from these three trials have been used by AMF and Össur to develop the technology further. According to Jon Sigurdsson, president and CEO of Össur, the results of the initial trials have encouraged them to “extend our collaboration and further develop the system and pursue larger-scale clinical trials for continued exploration of mind-controlled prosthetic technologies.”
Sigurdsson added that the expanded, large-scale clinical trials using Össur’s bionic prosthetic technologies and the IMES system would begin in late 2020.What do you think of this development? Would you consider getting one yourself once the technology’s available in the market?