Monday, December 15, 2008

Woman receives breakthru cyborg arm

A bombing survivor has been fitted with a clip-on arm that fuses directly with her own skin and bone. Surgeons carried out the pioneering operation during which a titanium alloy rod was attached to a bone in her arm, which protrudes through her skin. The skin has healed naturally and formed a protective seal around it, allowing prostheses to be attached. The technique, called Itap, is based on reindeer antlers, which naturally grow through the skin without any problems with the added benefit of doing away with the need for cumbersome straps and sockets. It also avoids the infections and pressure sores previously associated with attempts to fuse metal with bone. Sensors, placed on what is left of the arm, allow her to grip objects with her artificial left arm by flexing muscles in her upper arm. The unit is much easier to control and also is much more sensitive, which allows her to grip eating implements and feed herself with the arm. The next addition will be an electrically powered elbow joint.

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