Retired U.S. Marine Gets First Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hand

The first mind-controlled robotic hand is a glimpse into a brighter future.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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On a tour of Afghanistan in 2012 U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. James Sides of Denver lost his right hand, in addition to the vision in his left eye, when an improvised explosive device exploded right under him. Sides described the scene after the explosion saying, “[I] Rolled over to go to stand up and I saw that my forearm was broken and my hand was shredded to my wrist. Sides then in 2014 volunteered for a new kind of prosthetic technology which would enable him to control a robotic hand with his mind and now he’s finally using it. 

Dr. Paul Pasquina principle investigator and chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. said Sides immediately signed up when asked about the new prosthetic. “We approached him with,’Hey there’s this new technology,’ and I don’t think I finished sentence before he said, ‘Hey let’s do it,'” Pasquina said.

Created by the Afred Mann Foundation the robotic prosthetic hand, unlike other robotic prosthetics, uses the implantable myoelectric sensor (IMES) system. Other prosthetics have used sensors on the limb to detect muscle activity to control movement, but these sensors have been affected by the presence of sweat. The IMES system is not affected by sweat because the sensors, reportedly the size of a penny, are surgically implanted in the muscles of the person’s limb. These sensors can activate more muscles, changing the movement and control of the prosthetic. 

In the above video where Sides demonstrates the prosthetic’s “fluid” motion he explains how the sensors work, “The prosthetics over my residual limb, that copper coil creates an electromagnetic field and when my muscles fire the sensors pick that up.” 

[via Bro Bible]

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