FDA Approves ‘Mind Controlled’ Robotic Arm

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A wounded veteran shows off a prototype of the DEKA Arm. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool via Getty Images)

A wounded veteran shows off a prototype of the DEKA Arm. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool via Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new type of prosthetic arm that allows for greater flexibility and control.

Called the DEKA Arm, it can be controlled by a person’s mind. Sensors in the prosthetic respond to even the most subtle movements of the muscles close to where it is attached.

Electrodes send the signals to a computer processor that controls movement of the arm’s wrist, fingers, palm and most importantly its opposable thumb.

“This innovative prosthesis provides a new option for people with certain kinds of arm amputations,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a statement. “The DEKA Arm System may allow some people to perform more complex tasks than they can with current prostheses in a way that more closely resembles the natural motion of the arm.”

Clinical research showed that with use of the DEKA Arm, approximately 90 percent of participants were able to perform common household activities that they couldn’t do with a traditional prosthetic, such as using keys and opening locks, preparing food, combing their hair, and using zippers.

2008 study estimated that one in 190 Americans is living with the loss of an upper or lower limb. As of December 2013, more than 1,500 Americans had lost a leg or arm in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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