"As a baby, you can hold onto a finger. I have to relearn," Cpl Sebastian Gallegos told the New York Times earlier this month. Gallegos, a San Antonio man and armed services veteran, lost an arm while on patrol in Afghanistan. Now he's acting almost as a test case for robotic prosthetic advancement. Gallegos underwent a "pioneering" surgery that targeted and amplified the nerve signals going from his brain to his former arm. From there, Gallegos was fixed with a 110,000 robotic device"a smart arm with the ability to respond to the tiny electrical nerve signals created by his brain. The result? A robotic arm controlled by Gallegos' mind. It's slow going now, as Gallegos has to think, and many times verbalize, the actions he wants to arm to take. For example to life and drink from a cup he must tell the arm to lower, his hand to grab the cup gently, and then raise it to his mouth.
The new procedure is expensive "prohibitively so for most amputees" but it represents a major leap forward in prosthetics. As the technology advances, doctors and researches say amputees will be able to "feel" the prostheses. The limb could send extremely subtle signals back through the body to help the amputee stay in sync and intuitively control their limb. Video of Gallegos and his robotic limb can be found online. Don't have reliable Internet? You're missing out seeing advances like Gallegos'. Visit ClearWirelessInternet4G.com/ for high speed Internet on the go and stay on top of the latest robotics trends.
Gallegos is growing in strength each day, improving his ability to control the arm. When talking to the New York times, the soldier said he recites the names of fallen brothers-in-arms to help him concentrate and stay "in sync" with his new arm. It's an exciting piece of tech that could mean big things for amputees in the future.