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Watch This: A Mind-Controlled Robotic Leg

Qmed Staff

September 30, 2013

1 Min Read
Watch This: A Mind-Controlled Robotic Leg

A new type of robotic leg uses rewired nerves for control. In the study, a 32-year-old an with an above-the-knee amputation received a specialized robotic limb that could be controlled by his mind. Results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


According to researchers, the new system doesn't require the use of exaggerated muscle movements or a remote-control switch to go between different types of movement. On top of this, the robotic leg doesn't require manual repositioning with one's hands when sitting down.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time that neural signals have been used to control both a motorized knee and ankle prosthesis," note researchers.

Previously, researchers have successfully controlled robotic arms through the use of thought alone. With this latest project, muscle signals are used to amplify messages sent by a patient's brain.

To achieve this, researcher redirected a patient's nerves that previously controlled some lower leg muscles in the 32-year-old subject. This would cause muscles in the man's thigh to contract. This technique, dubbed targeted muscle reinnervation, can simplify the process of using an artificial limb.

Once this was done, researchers embedded sensors in the robotic leg. These sensors measured electrical pulses created by existing thigh muscles and reinnervated muscle contractions. When combined with data that came from additional embedded sensors, the robotic leg was able to accurately mimic the movement of a normal, healthy leg.

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