The limb, known as the Edinburgh Modular Arm System (EMAS), was developed by the rehabilitation engineering service based at the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland. Team director Dr. David Gow said the arm project was a combination of 35 years of research at the centre.
The limb’s features include what is claimed to be the world’s first motorized shoulder, mobility of the wrist and elbow joints and contracting fingers. It also has pressure sensors and a microchip which translates thought processes from the brain to the shoulder. The arm is covered with authentic-looking skin, which is so lifelike it has wrinkles and fingerprints.
Dr. Gow said: “Mr. Aird’s fitting is the first field trial of the complete arm. He will use a combination of pressure sensors and micro switches to control its four functions. The next step will be to experiment with the use of electrical signals generated by muscles to control movements to give Campbell additional control features and functions.”
The electronic arm will enable Aird to carry out more complex tasks such as tying shoelaces for the first time in 16 years. “It weighs only about four pounds, which is half the weight of a normal arm.”
Dr. Gow’s research team was hoping to take the electronic limb concept further and develop an arm that could be attached to the skeleton.
– David Welsh
(For more information, contact the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, (44) 131-536-4600.)