A research team led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has developed a prototype of the first fully integrated prosthetic arm that can be controlled naturally, provides sensory feedback, and allows for eight degrees of freedom. Proto 1 is a complete limb system that also includes a virtual environment used for patient training, clinical configuration, and to record limb movements and control signals during clinical investigations.

The natural control and integrated sensory feedback demonstrated with Proto 1 are enabled by Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR), a technique that involves the transfer of residual nerves from an amputated limb to unused muscle regions in appropriate proximity to the injury. During clinical evaluation, a patient demonstrated substantial improvements in functional testing, such as the ability to reposition the thumb for different grips, remove a credit card from a pocket, and stack cups while controlling grip force using sensory feedback versus vision.

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