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New prosthetic arms are wired directly to the human brain

Molly Wood Nov 16, 2010
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New prosthetic arms are wired directly to the human brain

Molly Wood Nov 16, 2010
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COPY

On today’s show we leave aside talk of social media and smartphones and stuff you can do on the Internet, and instead take a deeper look at some biomedical science that may be about to make a huge difference in the lives of amputees.

Michael McLoughlin is program manager for the Modular Prosthetic Limb project at the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. We talk to him about how the new limbs are different from the traditional models. For instance, most upper extremity amputees wear what is essentially a hook with limited functionality. But these new models have a dedicated motor within each finger, multiple motors in the thumb, along with motors in the wrist for rotating and flexing.

McLoughlin says that since different amputees have lost their arms at different points in the body, prostheses must be adaptable to work with the wiring that remains in the shoulder or even the brain itself.

The Modular Prosthetic Limb is set to begin testing on human subjects soon.

Also in this show, a used Apple computer is up for sale and it will only cost about $200,000. Granted, it’s a reeeeeally old computer, an Apple 1, dating back to 1976. One of only about 200 ever made. Cassette drive included.

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