Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Biotech Science Technology

Bionic Leg Undergoing Clinical Trials 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-have-the-technology dept.
fangmcgee writes "A 'bionic' leg designed for people who have lost a lower leg is undergoing clinical trials sponsored by the US Army. The researchers hope the leg will be able to learn the patient's nerve signal patterns and be able to move in response to the patient's own muscles and nerves (abstract). Electrodes are attached to nine muscles in the thigh to detect the patterns in which the nerve signals are fired. Different patterns correspond to different intended movements. In the current stages of training, the volunteers are wired up to the electrodes and learn how to use the muscles to make a computer avatar move on screen. Results showed that all the volunteers could control the avatar’s knee and ankle movements from neural information from the thigh, with amputees achieving 91 percent accuracy of movement and the non-amputees achieving 89 percent."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bionic Leg Undergoing Clinical Trials

Comments Filter:
  • Go cyborg, now. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @12:22PM (#35915676)
    The interesting question is what we are going to do when such artificial limbs are actually better than the real deal. Voluntary amputation to get an upgrade? Interesting times....
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Even if the limbs are better, removing the natural limb will still have serious complications
      • removing the natural limb will still have serious complications

        There are ways to ease such complications, such as Ertl reconstruction [ertlreconstruction.com] of the affected leg.

        • But what if you remove too much bone marrow? I suppose, if you could keep enough bone marrow alive inside another implant in the gut or something...
          • Interesting point on bone marrow.
            That is what "maintenance" contracts are for...

            Kusanagi: So what if we can't live without high-level maintenance?
            We have nothing to complain about.
            lt doesn't mean we've sold our souls to Section 9.
            We do have the right to resign if we choose.
            Provided we give the government back our cyborg shells and the memories they hold.
    • Voluntary amputation to get an upgrade?

      Until the artificial legs get stolen or broken and one has to walk around like [youtube.com] this [youtube.com].

      • by NoSig (1919688)
        Biological legs get broken too, and I think I'd rather have an interchangeable leg with a pain cut-off (when they get mild pain and touch sensation working) get broken than have a biological one broken. I'll give you that biological legs rarely get stolen, though.
    • super soldiers that what the army wants!

    • I've been stuck in this slowly dying meat prison for over 40 years! The optics have always been shit (though the lasik upgrade a few years ago helped a little,) it requires constant refueling and maintenance and the parts replacement plan sucks! Plus it has to think with meat! MEAT! Do you know how hard it is to think with meat? Well OK you probably do, but have you ever really thought about how hard it is to think with meat? There is literally no place I wouldn't stop, if I could replace every piece of it.
      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Bad news.... if you replace all the parts, you're dead. Sure, there may now be a robotic doppelganger out there, but it's not you. You don't get to share in its experiences simply because it looks and acts like you. Unless they come up with a way to perform soul transplants, you're screwed. And if there is no soul to transplant, then you're really screwed.

        • But what if you replace the brain neuron by neuron, without a break in conciousness?
          • by superwiz (655733)
            in the midst of synapses firing? cause that's also part of "you".
            • by nedlohs (1335013)

              So If you replace one neuron in the midst of synapses firing, you are no longer you?

              How about 30,000,000 of them?

              Each second?

              For a year?

              At which point are you not you?

              • by superwiz (655733)
                You are not you at the point where there are 2 of you, I suppose. But it doesn't really matter. I was responding to a hypothetical. The guy mentioned simultaneously replacing all neurons. So my question was whether he realized that would mean capturing their state in the midst of firing.
          • by Thing 1 (178996)

            But what if you replace the brain neuron by neuron, without a break in conciousness?

            Exactly! Eat the nano-pill, and the nanobots cruise to your brain, and start replacing it in-place with a billion-times-faster device. As you look up at the ceiling fan, it will start slowing until it comes to almost a stop; you're thinking that much faster. The hitch is that communicating with those who have not taken the pill become excruciatingly slow, like one word every year, from your perception. "The digital divide" indeed!

            • by dissy (172727)

              Eat the nano-pill, and the nanobots cruise to your brain, and start replacing it in-place with a billion-times-faster device. As you look up at the ceiling fan, it will start slowing until it comes to almost a stop; you're thinking that much faster. The hitch is that communicating with those who have not taken the pill become excruciatingly slow, like one word every year, from your perception. "The digital divide" indeed!

              If the devices used to replace your neurons take full advantage of the nanotechnology they should have (and would need to be able to do such a thing in the first place), you should also be able to adjust your own clock speed so to speak, under full conscious control.

              When talking to 'meat bags', you could slow your brain down to the standard human speed (or slightly higher) to communicate and be able to take part in real-world activities.

              In fact while the majority of humans are still humans, you would want t

          • by NSash (711724)

            But what if you replace the brain neuron by neuron, without a break in conciousness?

            That's begging the question. If you assume that there will be no break or reduction in consciousness as bits of your brain are replaced, then you never lose continuity. It's not obvious that this would be the case.

        • As long as I feel continuity through the upgrade process, I don't give a rat's arse about philosophical problems or souls...
        • by superwiz (655733)
          You replace it all the time... In fact most of you is dedicated to replacing parts of you that just wore out... just on a smaller level.
        • by Greyfox (87712)
          Soul. Pah! Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? How about when you were 10? Any sense of continuity you have is an illusion generated by your brain. About the only thing that's remained the same has been your DNA.

          Who does a robotic version of me have to convince it's me? Certainly not myself -- it could just as easily be programmed to believe it's me. If no one else can tell a difference in its personality, what's the difference really?

    • The interesting question is what we are going to do when such artificial limbs are actually better than the real deal. Voluntary amputation to get an upgrade? Interesting times....

      What's going to power it?

      • Depends. You can power it biochemically, I guess. Until then - plain batteries? RTGs? Whatever wÃrks. Running out of juice on your cyborg limbs might suck, though.... I give you that.
    • by Thing 1 (178996)
      Already a cyborg: I wear glasses.
    • I don't know if it should be better and faster than a real leg, the last time I tried them, the leg just ran away from me.
  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @12:23PM (#35915680) Homepage
    We can rebuild him; faster, stronger... We have the technology!
    • But who will supply patients with the requisite large moustache capability?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w4yd3aPnC4 [youtube.com]

      So I don't think we're fully there yet.

      • Wow, I was too young at the time to remember, but seeing it now I wonder if most adults at the time thought, "this show is mostly people running and jumping in slow motion with some mid-grade funk music."

        I was also too young to ask, "Why did he kick this explosive behind the dam where it could impart more force to the water retention structure?" He should have kicked it *away* from the dam.

    • BIONIC...ARR^H^H^HLLLEEEEEEEEEGGGGGGG!!!!!!

      Caps filter can die in a fire. I am yelling on purpose you big silly computer.

  • If it can't do the slow-mo superspeed with the funky "bionic" noise.

    • That always bugged me about The Six Million Dollar Man. He was supposed to be able to run incredibly fast, but it always took him forever to get anywhere. It was maddening!

      • by grumling (94709)

        The DVD collection has an interview with the director. His inspiration was NFL Films [nflfilms.com], who shoot runningbacks in slow motion.

      • He was supposed to be able to run incredibly fast, but it always took him forever to get anywhere. It was maddening!

        It definately wierd that people thought that slow-motion video of a man running at normal speed looked faster then a person running at normal speed. You're sense of time must have alot of variability, based on weather you're expecting something to be true or not. It's a cheap special affect, anyway, so I guess the studio had nothing to loose.

    • by sanman2 (928866)

      Don't forget to throw in the requisite bongo drums to set the mood.

      But more importantly - will it impress the chicks?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMhMscIxLt8 [youtube.com]

  • They wire electrodes to somewhere unrelated, the brain learns to integrate it into it's body like nothing was the matter. This is so awesome. It would be even more awesome if they could wire stuff to the motor nerves and have the brain treat it as a new body part to control, rather than retraining old nerves, though.
    • They can, but brain surgery is much more risky than wiring some electrodes to some (now extraneous since the limb is gone) nerve endings. There was a story not long ago about wiring directly to speech center of the brain to give voices to mutes. For allowing the blind to see, the deaf to hear, or the mute to speak, brain surgery is both needed and (probably) worthwhile. There are less invasive ways to handle allowing bionic limbs.

      • Yeah, I know, what I meant was "tapping into" the nerves that run down the arms and legs or the facial area. It would be a lot more efficient than going for the spine or brain, obviously.
        • From the full article it looks like they're currently trying to see how far they can go without any surgery at all.

          They aim to find out if they will need to have extra nerve endings implanted in a process known as “targeted muscle innervations” to control the robotic limb. The researchers have been surprised with the preliminary findings that show the patients are able to control the ankle joint, which they expected would require surgical implants.

          If I'm reading that right, they *can* do what you're talking about, but they're starting to realize that they may not need to. While there might be some advantages to a permanently wired and attached prosthetic like Luke's hand or Steve Austin, there's also something to be said for a non-surgical solution that can be trivially switched out, changed, removed for maintenance, etc.

          • The way I read it, the'yre talking about adding extra nerves into a muscle group and then read the signals from that muscle group. I'm talking about running a "line" into the "trunk nerve", so you wouldn't need to give up a patch of muscle to control the implant. That'd be a big thing if you want to add stuff to people that aren't injured or is having stuff cut off and replaced.
  • I said a hip, a hop, the hippity-hop
    To the hip hip hop, and you dont stop!

  • And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @01:09PM (#35915966)

      And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.

      Actually, if you look at the history of medicine (especially emergency medicine) it owes a lot to the military. Many civilians are alive today because of the R&D investments made by military forces around the world.

      • It owes a lot to the military in the sense that the military has a tendency to maim people in quite creative way. Then some doctor has to find a way to fix it again.
      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.

        Actually, if you look at the history of medicine (especially emergency medicine) it owes a lot to the military. Many civilians are alive today because of the R&D investments made by military forces around the world.

        I wonder, though, if we hadn't been spending so many of our resources on breaking windows in other countries, how much more science and medical technology we could have potentially developed by today.

        • And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.

          Actually, if you look at the history of medicine (especially emergency medicine) it owes a lot to the military. Many civilians are alive today because of the R&D investments made by military forces around the world.

          I wonder, though, if we hadn't been spending so many of our resources on breaking windows in other countries, how much more science and medical technology we could have potentially developed by today.

          That's a common outlook, but it's frequently wrong. The reality is that the military in most developed countries can demand tremendous resources, and apply them to pure research efforts. Obviously, the intent is to increase military capability in most cases (and certainly being able to preserve the lives of trained soldiers is one of them) but the public often benefits from the knowledge gained. The kind of investment big governments can afford is rarely seen in the private sector (which doesn't look beyond

          • by Thing 1 (178996)
            I agree that we do not have the other world to compare it to, and that I am speculating.
  • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzachNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday April 23, 2011 @12:49PM (#35915824) Homepage

    You would think they would be able to do better than 90%. With that accuracy you would fall down the stairs at least 1 out of every 10 times you go down them.

    I recently dumped the C-Leg for a general mechanical leg because it drove me nuts how I had no say how the C-Leg tried to guess what I was doing... and if it didn't know, it would go into geriactric safety mode. I don't plan on using another knee that I have to recharge until this kind of tech actually comes to fruitation. I have a feeling it will be another 5 to 10 years.

    • You would think they would be able to do better than 90%. With that accuracy you would fall down the stairs at least 1 out of every 10 times you go down them.

      I recently dumped the C-Leg for a general mechanical leg because it drove me nuts how I had no say how the C-Leg tried to guess what I was doing... and if it didn't know, it would go into geriactric safety mode. I don't plan on using another knee that I have to recharge until this kind of tech actually comes to fruitation. I have a feeling it will be another 5 to 10 years.

      I'd say you're right ... they're going to have to do better than that. Training and experience will help, as will improvements to the firmware that runs the things. There's going to have to be something fairly sophisticated in there, some kind of expert system that can make correct judgments about what the user is trying to do even in the face of occasional bad control input.

      When you factor in the additional R&D required, plus the time it takes to get FDA approval for something like this, five or ten

    • I'd be curious about what level of refined movement they are working with, and how much difference practice makes. I have a non-zero error rate in making movements with my natural limbs, especially when I'm doing very refined work (I've made a typo already in this post and had to correct it), but even gross movement I occasionally over or underestimate a stair height, trip over nothing, whatever. Usually I can correct by using other muscles or something; very rarely, but occasionally, I fall down and make

    • by arth1 (260657)

      You would think they would be able to do better than 90%. With that accuracy you would fall down the stairs at least 1 out of every 10 times you go down them.

      It's much worse than that. It applies to every leg action.
      And you do at least two leg actions for each step. But it's mitigated by not every misstep being fatal - some will just make you look funny. Say half are non-fatal (because that simplifies things). Given that you only need to fall once, the risk formula is 1-0.9^f, where f is number of steps

      Plugging in a couple of common staircase lengths:

      4 steps (like a porch): 34% risk of falling
      13 steps (home story flight): 75% risk
      20 steps (public building st

  • Oh yes! Yes! How cool is that! Can you make an exception for people who still have 2 legs attached? No? It's completely ok, I understand that. I'l be right back in a moment..
  • I don't know much about prosthetics and whatnot. But I've seen people running and playing sports (basketball, for one) with 'simple' artificial legs. By simple, I mean incorporating adjustable joint tensions, carbon fiber leaf springs, etc. But no electronics. Purely passive mechanical. I assume that these bionics address a group of patients not properly served by the aforementioned technology. And that the exposure to additional failure modes of the sensors, processors, actuators, etc. is worthwhile.

    I h

    • You can get around on a peg leg, doesn't mean it's the best or most efficient way to do it. The more closely they can mimic our natural capabilities the better for the amputees. Also this is technology that can be pushed farther as time goes on. We can recreate the lower-leg ankle assembly reasonably well with the technology you describe, but from what I understand this system can recreate the knee as well. That's allows people with much higher amputations to use the leg. Hand and arm amputation replac

      • by PPH (736903)

        Bionic hand I can understand. Maybe they just did the leg as a simpler problem to get started.

        The advantage of the bionic hand over the leg is that: upon failure of a hand, most people can get around OK (at least handle most critical tasks) with the other one. Only one good leg leaves you much less mobile.

  • science actually helps while theists claim it was prayer that helped people.

  • We've seen time & time again, give the brain some input and it will sort out what it means and how to use it. Just look at that relatively recent post here on Slashdot about "seeing" with the tongue.

    Hook to actuators to one group of nerve endings and the feedbacks to some different nerve ends and five'll get you ten, the brain will sort it out.
  • It's great to see movement forward. I've been short a lower leg since i was 5 and its amazing the variations in that time. I've walked on wooden legs with bits of tyre to space it, had wooden feet, latex feet and now composite carbon laminates. I've had sockets with leather straps to keep the leg on, had winged sockets and rubber sleeves but now use a negative pressure socket to maintain volume and improved tactile response. If i left up to the Australian govt cover me with the best tech I'd be using a peg

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...