MANCHESTER, N.H. - A revolutionary new prosthetic arm has given a man control over two arms for the first time since he lost them in an accident.
Chuck Hildreth had both arms removed after and accident and has been working with Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics in Newton, Massachusetts to perfect the use of the company's new technology.
Hildreth's single LUKE arm is fully integrated with a powered shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. The weight of Hildreth's prosthetic right arm is supported using a harness that straps across his chest and onto his sides.
"When I first tried the very first prosthetic arm over at DEKA, within five hours of operation, I was picking up a piece of wood off the table, putting it in a vice, clamping it, grabbing a hand drill, drilling a hole in it, picking up a screw and screwing it in with a power drill ... it's very intuitive to the user," Hildreth explained. "It's really nice to have a system adjust to me for a change."
Ron Currier, an Air Force veteran, is the first person to be fitted with LUKE arms on both sides of his body using muscle signals to interpret thoughts into movement.
The prosthetic arm was developed by DEKA Research and Development Corp. with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Matt Albuquerue, president and founder of Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics, presented his company's work on the arms and allowed both Hildreth and Currier to demonstrate the use of the arms.
"We had let Chuck take it home for a while," Albuquerque joked. "It was about a week later, he comes back and he says 'Matt you gotta turn this thing down. My wife won't leave me alone, she's having do all kinds of things around the house like painting and vacuuming.'"
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