It wasn't that long ago that amputees were simply given plastic limbs and hooks to replace arms, hands, legs and feet. They often struggled with the basic tasks like feeding themselves. It was a poor repayment for service members that had lost limbs in the service of our country.
That is changing, thanks to the creator of the Segway, Dean Kamen.
Back in 2006, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, contracted Kamen to create an new prosthetic arm system from scratch that would better serve amputees. The result is the DEKA Arm System.
The DEKA is nearly lifelike in movement and known in-house as the "Luke" arm in references to Luke Skywalker's lifelike prosthetic hand in Star Wars.
Today, the FDA approved the DEKA Arm for commercial use. I should note that FDA approval after just eight years of development time is astounding.
The prosthetic works by way of electromyogram (EMG) sensors which monitor muscle movement in the user's arm to create seamless movement in the DEKA.
Kamen's ultimate goal was to allow amputees with this arm to pick up a raisin or grape from the table and feed themselves without dropping or squishing the fruit. He's done just that.
The DEKA Arm System can recognize up to 10 commands at once, which is an incredible breakthrough in prosthesis technology. Plus, it is sensitive enough to pick up an egg without breaking it. Some wearers have even been able to master chopsticks!
There is no word yet on how much the DEKA will cost, or when it will be available for purchase. Keep scrolling for pictures, and click here to see the amazing video on the DEKA in action!
The DEKA Arm System holding a cherry tomato without crushing or dropping it.
The DEKA Arm System holding a quarter with the use of its "fingernails."