The future of prosthetic technology is mind control

Many of the workplace injuries we talk about on this blog require time to heal before an employee is able to return to work. There are other injuries, however, that could leave Colorado workers facing amputation and the loss of a limb. These serious accidents require more than just time to heal, they require prosthetics, constant check ups and major adaptations in the employee’s life.

The good news is, however, that we are light years ahead of prosthetics from 20 years ago. A new kind of prosthetic that relies on neural transmissions could be the future of how workplace amputation victims recover from injury. Although the prosthetic is still in testing and is being funded by the army, there is always a possibility that this technology could find its way to individuals with on-the-job injuries.

When a 32-year-old lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, surgeons took his severed nerves and reconnected them to leg muscles. Had they not done that, the 32-year-old would not have been able to utilize advanced prostheses. Despite not having a lower leg or foot, he is still able to send signals to his muscles to react as if he were using his foot. Scientists have used these working nerves to set up a new prosthetic leg that the man can control with his mind.

There are small electrodes connected to his leg that pick up on these neural transmissions, which are then converted into commands that operate the prosthesis. There are two motors and many sensors that make this prosthetic leg an important step forward in mind-controlled prosthetics and, hopefully, in getting injured workers back to work.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Mind control powers prototype bionic leg,” Juan Perez Jr., Sept. 25, 2013

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