by Red Cell
Claudia Mitchell is one of the world’s first volunteers, and the first woman, to undergo nerve-rerouting (targeted muscle reinnervation) surgery, as well as getting a brain-controlled prosthetic. This prosthetic arm is controlled with her mind! Mitchell truly is a bionic pioneer.
The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and robotics designer Todd Kulken, developed the $3 million “myoelectric” arm for Mitchell after she suffered the loss of her left arm due to a motorcycle accident. “Myoelectric” means the bionic limb receives electrical signals straight from Mitchell’s brain and into her nerves. Electrodes send these signals from her flesh to the limb, which uses a computer to interpret which action she wants. Surgeons routed a lot of the nerves from her arm to her chest, which had some unusual results like when Mitchell showers, she can feel the water that hits hers chest in her phantom limb. Scientists use the spots on her chest that her brain interprets as part of her arm to attach electrodes to, allowing the computer to recognize these signals and use them to manipulate the bionic limb.
You can read much more here.
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Todd Kulken co-wrote an article where he explains how his myoelectric limbs work:
There are two ways in which prosthetic arms are currently controlled. One way is to use other body motions, such as shrugging the shoulders, to pull on a series of cables and operate the hand, wrist, or elbow. These prostheses are called “body-powered” prostheses. The other way is to read the tiny electrical signals generated by muscles when they contract, and use these signals from remaining muscles to control a motorized arm.
These muscle signals are read by small electrical antennas called electrodes. For example, someone who has lost their arm above the elbow may use their biceps and triceps muscles to control their prosthetic hand. The prosthesis could be programmed to interpret signals from the biceps muscle as “open the hand” and signals from the triceps muscle as “close the hand.” These prostheses are called “myoelectric prostheses.”