Lightweight prostheses, targeted muscle reinnervation could offer better outcomes

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. – A new, lightweight powered prosthesis could offer better functional control for young amputees, according to speaker here at the Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics Annual Meeting.

“We wanted to do something different,” Todd Kuiken, MD, PhD, presidential guest speaker and director of the Center for Bionic Medicine at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, said. “All of the [prosthetic] arms being sold on the market right now are for the 50th percentile male. They fit a need…but they are also too big for 75% of the population. So, we made a new system.”

Todd Kuiken


Kuiken and a team of researchers developed an arm with mass and size targeted at the 27th percentile female, or the average 12-year-old girl. The arm is a full pound lighter than anything currently on the market and offers wrist rotation and flexion. The external rotor drives and transmission allow it to be strong, but “still lightweight enough for the user to play with,” Kuiken said.

“And we have a cool hand on it. We gave it more anatomically oriented fingers – they are not all straight, there is a nice wrap around grasp and the elbow has a nice contour,” he said.

The team is further developing the arm and hopes it will be commercially available soon, Kuiken said.

He also discussed the concept of targeted muscle and targeted sensory reinnervation. These processes thread electrodes directly into nerves of a patent’s residual limb and stimulate the nerves using electrical currents. Nerves previously used to serve a missing limb are rewired to a remaining part of the limb, which could enable a sense of touch or kinesthesia.

“The idea is, ‘let’s change the person to work better with the technology,’” he said. “The closer we can bring the user to the device, the better our outcomes will be.” – by Shawn M. Carter


Kuiken T. Presidential guest speaker: Building bionic. Presented at: Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics Annual Meeting; May. 13-16, 2015; Clearwater Beach, Fla.

Disclosure: Kuiken is a partial owner of COAPT LLC.




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