This technical information has been contributed byMANCHESTER, N.H.—Military Service members who have experienced the loss of an arm may be able to regain some of the functionality and independence that they lost with the help of a new prosthetic arm.
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Mobius Bionics to Bring DEKA's LUKE Prosthetic Arm to Market
Launch is scheduled to begin in late 2016
Mobius Bionics, an innovative new medical device company focused on bringing advanced prosthetic technologies to upper-limb amputees, recently announced the commercial introduction of the LUKE arm, developed by DEKA Research & Development Corp. (DEKA) and cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a new product category for integrated prosthetic arms.
The LUKE arm is reported to offer state-of-the-art flexibility, strength, and dexterity to provide greater independence for people with forearm- through shoulder-level amputations. Incorporating the latest technology in electronics, motors, batteries, and materials, it is an advanced prosthesis with innovative features that give amputees the capabilities they deserve. Capabilities include a powered shoulder with the capability to reach overhead or behind the back; a powered elbow with the strength to lift a bag of groceries from floor to tabletop; and a powered, multi-movement wrist with the precision, range of motion, and dexterity to hold a glass of water overhead or at waist level without spilling.
A hand with four independent motors and a conforming grip is reported to hold everything from delicate items, such as a phone or an egg, to heavy items, such as a gallon of milk, without worrying that the item will slip or break. The Luke arm also includes an innovative grip-force sensor that senses how firmly something is being grasped and communicates that information to the user, and a variety of ways to control the arm, including electromyographic (EMG) electrodes and foot-mounted inertial measurement sensors. All of these features and capabilities are provided to the prosthetist as a complete system, eliminating any potential compatibility issues between joints or components.
The LUKE arm is the result of years of research and testing by nearly 100 amputees for over 10,000 hours of use. It was developed by DEKA Research & Development Corp. as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, with additional funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command through a contract with the Army Research Office. Launched in 2006, DARPA’s program began with a radical goal: to develop an advanced electromechanical prosthetic upper limb with near natural control that would dramatically enhance independence and improve quality of life for amputees.
“Up to this point, design in prosthetic arms has been limited to incremental changes,” said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA, in a press release. “We developed the LUKE arm to change the game for amputees—creating an innovative, integrated system that offers greater functionality and independence to our wounded warriors and other amputees.”
Working with DARPA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Rehabilitation Research and Development Service under a federal interagency agreement, DEKA spent years directly engaged with amputees in a number of studies, including VA studies, to better understand how the intersection of biology and engineering could ultimately lead to advanced prosthetic technologies. DEKA obtained performance feedback on the design from VA clinical optimization and take-home studies and DEKA take-home studies.
“Working one-on-one with the amputees and learning what they liked and didn’t like about using prostheses proved invaluable to our product development process,” noted Kamen. “Thanks to their insight and input, we have been able to construct the most advanced FDA-cleared design that the world of upper-limb prosthetics has seen to date.”
Since the inception of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, DARPA has supported efforts to bring this advanced technology to market with the objective that Service members with arm loss would regain the independence and capability that they lost. DARPA’s most recent support provides resources to assist in establishing Mobius Bionics so that the arm can be provided to amputees, particularly to veterans.
Mobius Bionics has chosen Universal Instruments Corporation, of Binghamton, New York, to serve as the contract manufacturer for the LUKE arm. Mobius is tapping into Universal Instruments’ decades of experience in manufacturing precision electromechanical products to produce the arm. Universal Instruments Corporation (uic.com) is a global designer and manufacturer of advanced automation and assembly equipment for the electronics manufacturing industry. The company offers engineering and production capabilities.
“Universal Instruments is pleased to partner with Mobius Bionics to bring the LUKE arm to market, enabling greater independence for upper limb amputees,” said Keith O’Leary, CFO and COO of Universal Instruments, in a statement.
Mobius Bionics is preparing the arm for launch in late 2016, and is accepting names of people interested in owning one of the first LUKE arms. To learn more about the LUKE arm join the growing list of people interested in owning a LUKE arm, call 855-MOBIUS-1 (855-662-4871) or visit www.mobiusbionics.com.
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