FDA Approves Advanced Prosthetic Arm For Clinical Use

Science / Tech

Photo Courtesy of LiveScience.com

The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the use of a highly advanced prosthetic arm for clinical use.  The DEKA arm – as mentioned in the source article – does certainly have some similarities to Luke Skywalker’s prosthetic in The Empire Strikes Back.  But probably the most exciting thing about the DARPA funded project is that it’s a huge step up from the most commonly available prosthetic arm.  Please keep reading for more information.

The DEKA arm, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is an upper-limb prosthetic designed to restore near-natural control to amputees. The high-tech limb can handle objects as delicate as a grape or as hefty as a power tool, researchers said.

The military research agency launched the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program in 2006 with the goal of developing a prosthetic device “to repay some of the debt we owe to our service members,” Dr. Geoffrey Ling, director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, said in a statement.

The DEKA Arm System, developed by the company DEKA Integrated Solutions in Manchester, New Hampshire, uses wireless signals from sensors in the user’s feet and other inputs to control the arm’s multiple joints. The arm is about the same size and weight as a natural limb, and is battery-powered. The user can select among six different grips.

The FDA approved the device based on a study of 36 participants, funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as additional tests and trials funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. The device is designed for people who are 18 or older.


The wide range of grip options should allow for a much easier transition.  While no prosthetic currently available can do everything that a real, natural hand can do, this is a huge advance and should ease the burden of amputees significantly.  Hopefully these prostheses will become available for non-military personnel as well.


Source: Live Science

Featured Image Courtesy of Harrr.org and DiscoveryNews

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