Over the years, scientists have been working on prosthetic limbs that can respond to human thoughts. These projects have been heavily funded by many organizations and defense agencies across the world. A significant development in the direction has now led to the creation of the first ever prosthetic limb that responds to human thoughts much like a real limb.
Earlier, there was news about creation of prosthetic limbs that respond to thoughts but their movement was quite limited and hence, people in need either abandoned them or never preferred to use them. But, as per the doctor of Imperial college London, the new approach which shifts their focus from the muscles to the nervous system has helped them create a limb that responds to thoughts effectively.
According to him, their technology helps them detect and decode the signals clearly. The experiments and testing have been carried out with amputee volunteers and after physiotherapy they have been able to make more extensive movements.
Today, a lot of research scientists are already working and testing bionic arms. There is already and alternative of using brain implants available. But, the benefit of using the nerve from the spine is the compatibility factor, making it usable with existing prosthetic arms that too wire free linking from the brain, as per the researchers at Imperial College of London.
Another example is that of a thought controlled prosthetic being developed at the John Hopkins University, USA. It is being tested on a 50 plus amputee who lost his limbs in an electrical accident as a teenager. It is yet to be clinically tested and find a place in the market. The limbs are called Modular Prosthetic Limbs or MPL and the customer socket inside brain can pick up brain signals that control the arms. Thus, just by thinking the amputee is able to move the limb or limbs. To do the same, the amputee had to undergo a surgery for remapping the remaining nerves of his/her missing arms so that the brain could send signals to the prosthetic. As per the chief engineer at John Hopkins, with the remapping growing deeper, the working will better because of the over 100 sensors fitted in the arm. Another advantage of MPL being its modular design. This design helps in creating prosthetic limbs customized as per individual requirements.
Having said that, as on day MPL costs a bomb, as much as a Maserati car to be precise. Well, scientists are yet to work on a budget prosthetic, affordable to people in need. experts at John Hopkins are also working on creating caps that send signals about brain activity to the robotic arm. As for the market availability, they do hope to make the MPL available to the consumers within a few years.