Leslie Baugh had both of his arms amputated at shoulder-level following an electrical incident more than 40 years ago. But thanks to modern medical technology he now has arms again.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has been developing the Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPL) for more than a decade. The mind-controlled limbs allow Baugh a 30-degree range of motion on both sides. And while other patients have been using MPLs, Laugh is the first patient to have MPLs for both arms.
"He has access to all of the different degrees of motion – shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand – but he still needs to select which one he wants to use. So he needs to position the shoulder, then the elbow, then the wrist and then the hand separately and rest in between," Courtney Moran, Clinical Lead for Amputee Research at Johns Hopkins University, said.
According to Johns Hopkins trauma surgeon Albert Chi, it's a relatively new surgical that reassigns nerves that once controlled the arm and hand.
"By reassigning existing nerves, we can make it possible for people who have had upper-arm amputations to control their prosthetic devices by merely thinking about the action they want to perform," Chi said.
While becoming able to his arms effectively required a considerable amount of training, customized software from Johns-Hopkins made the process much easier. The software is capable of recognizing movement patterns to calibrate the arms to the Baugh's most common movements.
While the technology isn't quite ready to leave the research lab, the university is confident the arms will soon be able to assist Baugh at home and just about anywhere else. And that's the day Baugh is so anxiously awaiting.
"Maybe I'll be able to, for one, put change in a pop machine and be able to get the pop out of it," Baugh said. They're simple things like that people never think of. And it's re-available to me."
Check out this video to hear more of Baugh's story and how this incredible technology could forever change his life:
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