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Specialists Create Brain Powered Bionic Leg [VIDEO]

Update Date: Sep 26, 2013 04:23 PM EDT
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For people who lose a limb, whether it is an arm or a leg, readjusting to daily life can be extremely difficult. Even though losing a limb is permanent, due to advances in science and technology, people have the option of getting prosthetics. Prosthetics can help people get back to their daily lives. However, prosthetic limbs can still be difficult to maneuver. In a new study, researchers attempted to improve on the prosthetic limb. The team of software and biomedical engineers, neuroscientists, surgeons and prosthetists created a prosthetic limb that would be brain powered.

According to the researchers, Zac Vawter was just fitted for this new kind of bionic leg. Vawter lost his leg in 2009 due to a motorcycle accident. The new prosthetic leg has been taught how to read Vawter's brain intentions. The leg reads Vawter's desired movements from the bundle of nerves that exist right above the missing leg with the help of a computer and electrodes. Based on the report, if Vawter wanted his prosthetic toes to curl or move, all he would need to do is think it.

"With this leg, it just flows," said 32-year-old, Vaeter. "The control system is very intuitive. There isn't anything special I have to do to make it work right."

The researchers hope that if this pairing proves to be highly successful, future prosthetics could provide people the opportunity to walk with a natural gait once more. Since these prosthetics would ideally read brain intentions to the tee, playing sports and going about regular activities would be a lot easier. The prosthetic leg was created at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The team was given an eight million grant from the Army.

"We want to restore full capabilities," said Levi J. Hargrove, lead author of the new report. "While we're focused and committed to developing this system for our wounded warriors, we're very much thinking of this other, much larger population that could benefit as well."

The report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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