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Biotech Medicine Technology

Luke Prosthetic Arm Approved By FDA 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-have-the-technology dept.
necro81 writes: "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."
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Luke Prosthetic Arm Approved By FDA

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  • by scarboni888 (1122993) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:51PM (#46963317)

    When I read about the idea of commercializing this product I thought to myself why should these types of gear be only for replacing limbs?

    Would it be useful to have a third, fourth, or more arm attachments?

    Could it open up new capacities for accomplishing manual tasks, for example?

    Why should the amputees be the only ones who get cool toys?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Is that you, Dr. Octavius?

    • My question is why aren't amuptee toys cooler, why not go for a tentacle/flamethrower combo.

      • Re:Enhancements (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 09, 2014 @11:00PM (#46964457)

        Be careful what you wish for. Do you want to hear at your next job interview "We'd hire you, but since your limb cannot be replaced with a tool we want, you'll be 20% slower than someone who can. Of course, if you're willing to throw away your arm for the tool... What, if you really wanted the job you'd go that extra inch. You're just not committed, but we'll find someone who is".

      • Mainly because no matter how cool the prosthetic is, if you are minus a limb you still have a self-esteem blow that you don't want people thinking about your loss.

        Despite it being the year 2014, humans are still largely the same group-think apes from 2000 years ago that will define you by how you are different from the other apes. And it might not even be "largely", it might even be "completely" even if the better behaved humans keep those thoughts to themselves.
    • Re:Enhancements (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 09, 2014 @07:25PM (#46963541) Journal
      I suspect two main classes of reason (in addition to purely visceral distaste):

      1. Prosthetics tend to exploit whatever remnant limb is available, from relatively primitive 'cup' type attachments that fit over a stump all the way to cutting edge nerve interface implants that allow conscious control of the prosthesis. These just aren't available for limbs that humans never have: even in the case of complete amputation, you still get to take advantage of the skeleton being set up for a load-bearing attachment in a given location, not so if a limb doesn't go there.

      2. In practice, humans use 'prosthetic' aids all the time, they just don't imitate limbs all that closely and are often left at the work site. Just think of all the various clamps, vises, jigs, tripods, stands, etc, etc, etc, that act as 3rd through Nth hands during operations that require them. It tends to be far easier and cheaper to skip trying to replicate the (highly complex, but very versatile) structure of the hand and just knock together some relatively simple, task specific, tool, possibly a collection of them used for a sequence of assembly operations.
      • 2. In practice, humans use 'prosthetic' aids all the time, they just don't imitate limbs all that closely and are often left at the work site.

        As do many amputees. Many don't want to wear something that is hot, heavy, and not really part of them all the time. They just don them when they need the tool, do what they need to do, then take them off.

    • When I read about the idea of commercializing this product I thought to myself why should these types of gear be only for replacing limbs?

      Would it be useful to have a third, fourth, or more arm attachments?

      Sure. That -would- be neat, but then you couldn't buy shirts off the rack anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just how accurate is it? Will you be able to use the Force after installation? Will you still be able to install it after a lightsaber wound?

  • I thought slashdot was into 3d printed prosthetics [slashdot.org] without the high tech overhead.

  • After years of working at Segway (though not while Dean was around), I'd had no small exposure to his... ethos. And, generally, he most excelled at self-promotion. To see an engineer from the project answering -- in detail -- questions about it simply floors me. Perhaps Dean has reached the stage where he's willing to let others have a shot at the limelight? Whatever the reason -- congrats to the team for their hard work, and to Dean for giving them the opportunity to pursue it! My ex-boss actually ran the team for about a year, before he decided to leave for other pastures, but I'm sure that those who are still there are exceptional engineers, and should be proud of their hard work. Kudos all around.

    • Segway (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From an engineeing standpoint, Segway is pretty cool.

      From a societal one, it is a worthless consumer item.

      That's where I have been having personal issues lately - all engineering jobs are for creating worthless consumer crap; like the Segway.

      Now, creating artificial limbs is a worthy endeavor but I would have a real problem if the company that manufactured them was making an obscence profit. Keeping your doors open and even making a 45% operating margin is one thing and understandable, but some of these fu

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EvanED (569694)

        That's where I have been having personal issues lately - all engineering jobs are for creating worthless consumer crap; like the Segway.

        Keep in mind that the technology behind the Segway wasn't invented for the Segway; it was invented for this wheelchair. [youtube.com]

        The Segway got the attention because it's something that had the potential to have a much broader market, considering that the population that can't walk is pretty small.

  • Imagine one amputee (or even an able handed person) controlling hundreds or thousands of these to assemble things in a follow-my-lead manner. Computer vision based verification could compare the state of each of the things or 'gizmo' being assembled, with the 'master gizmo' the human is interactively building. In case of mismatch, gizmos with problems could be put away to sort out later.

  • Why the hell... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bartles (1198017) on Friday May 09, 2014 @09:18PM (#46964031)
    ...does the FDA have to approve a non-implanted prosthetic? Why are prosthetics so expensive?
    • I was about to post the following, when I realised I wasn't logged in. When I logged in, your post had appeared. So:

      Subject: Why does the FDA have to get involved?

      It's not food. It's not a drug. There's no surgery involved, as far as I can tell.

      Why does the FDA have to get involved with something that is, essentially, a wearable tool? If I wanted to mod a reacher [amazon.co.uk]into something I could strap to my arm, with a couple of electrodes attached to, say, my forehead to detect a raised eyebrow and active the claw, w

      • Re:Why the hell... (Score:4, Informative)

        by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Friday May 09, 2014 @10:39PM (#46964383) Journal
        It's being marketed as a medical device, and the FDA also has authority over medical devices. They approve things like MRI machines and EKG machines to ensure they actually work as advertized. Also, this one is apparently capable of using electromyogram electrodes, which may be intramuscular (needles implanted into the muscles) and not just those attached to the skin.
        • by Bartles (1198017)
          Yes I understand all this. MRI's and EKG's are used for monitoring and diagnosis. A prosthetic is not. If it doesn't work as advertised, it's pretty obvious. Still looking for the answer why.
          • Perhaps this, then, at a guess that came to me later:

            Insurance won't pay for it unless it's FDA approved [citation needed], and if it is FDA approved, it'll be so expensive only most people's insurance will be able to buy it.

  • by Type44Q (1233630)

    to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those...

    So, no love for those who ride the short bus...??

  • Maybe it's just me... but that arm seems to be close enough to lifelike that it looks a kind of creepy..
  • I heard it had a lukewarm reception.

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