Thanks to recent advancements in robotics, sensors, and neurology, prosthetic limbs have become much more functional replacements for amputees. The latest is the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL), a result of joint research between the University of Arizona and Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Albert Chi (left) assists patient Johnny Matheny with the robotic Modular Prosthetic Limb.
U of A scientists tout it as the “world’s most advanced prosthetic limb.” They have good reasons: the Modular Prosthetic Limb contains 100 sensors built into the arm which are capable of receiving information about temperature, pressure, joint angles and acceleration, as well as surface texture and proprioception (relative position). Movement of the arm is conveyed with just the user’s thoughts. Moreover, the MPL is truly modular, able to replace an amputated limb at any injury level, and, its neural components can be configured using the new “targeted muscle re-innervation” technique that utilizes the still viable nerves and muscles in an amputated limb.
Johnny Matheney is a user of the Modular Prosthetic Limb who lost his arm to cancer a few years ago. Since he began to use the MPL in May of last year, Matheney says he he has gained the ability to point his prosthetic finger, grasp a ball and flex his wrist. He can tell the difference between his index and little finger as well as detect the difference between soft and hard objects.