|Ryerson biomedical engineering students Michal Prywata and Thiago Caires’ prosthetic arm is controlled by brain signals.|
|Images: James Kachan|
Two Ryerson University undergraduate biomedical engineering students are changing the world of medical prosthetics with a newly developed prosthetic arm that is controlled by brain signals. The Artificial Muscle-Operated (AMO) Arm not only enables amputees more range of movement as compared to other prosthetic arms but it allows amputees to avoid invasive surgeries and could potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a press release. The AMO Arm is controlled by the user’s brain signals and is powered by ‘artificial muscles’ – simple pneumatic pumps and valves – to create movements.
|The AMO Arm can currently move up, down, left and right and can open and close.|
Developed by third-year student Thiago Caires and second-year student Michal Prywata, the AMO Arm is controlled by the brain and uses compressed air as the main source of power. The digital device makes use of signals in the brain that continue to fire even after a limb is amputated. Users wear a head-set that senses a signal – for example, the thought “up” – and sends it wirelessly to a miniature computer in the arm. The computer then compares the signal to others in a database. The resulting information is sent to the pneumatic system, which in turn, activates the arm to create the correct movement. Simulating the expansion and contraction of real muscles, the system makes use of compressed air from a small, refillable tank in the user’s pocket.
Since the device does not include microelectronics or motors, it costs less than other functional prosthetic arms. Also, because the AMO Arm is non-invasive, the period of adjustment for new users is decreased.
“In just 10 minutes of practicing, a person can pick up the mind-control aspect of the technology,” Prywata stated in the release.
Moreover, he says, the AMO Arm will not only benefit amputees, but could also be used as an assistive device on wheelchairs, enabling users to reach things with greater ease. The technology could also be used by the military to facilitate remote operations and in situations requiring robotics.