Man Controls Prosthetic Limb with Thoughts

Marks the first thought-sensitive prosthetic

With some help from the amputee's preserved nerves, his mechanical limb moves as intended 98 percent of the time, up from 87 percent without a neural connection. (Eric R. Schroeder/Shutterstock)

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has created the first synthetic leg that can tap into neural activity. Preserving the nerves in their male volunteer's lower leg during its amputation, engineer Todd Kuiken and his team planted them anew in his thigh muscle, reconfiguring the nerve signals to communicate with his robotic prosthetic.

The team programmed the mechanical prosthetic, attached below his thigh, to detect the nerve patterns the patient created when thinking about moving his leg.

The man can now transition smoothly from level ground to stairs, and can even kick a ball, reports The Washington Post.

This is the first use of targeted muscular reinnervation (TMR) on a man with a leg amputation since Kuiken theorized the method in 2006.

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