When Les Baugh, a Colorado man, was fitted with his new arms, he said, "I just went into a whole different world."
Baugh lost both arms to an electrical accident 40 years ago and recently tested out a custom rig that allows him to control two shoulder-mounted robotic arms with his mind. He is the first person in the world to use technology, developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, reports Arielle Duhamie-Ross for the Verge.
Before he could use the arms, surgeons at Johns Hopkins also preformed detailed surgery to target the nerves that once controlled Baugh’s arms and hands. "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," Albert Chi, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement. Baugh was able to move several object, including an empty cup from counter-height to a higher shelf.
A second story about advances in prosthetics is less high-tech, but no less incredible. When Tara Anderson, a director at 3D Systems, a company that specializes in 3D printing and design, heard about Derby, a dog born with a congenital defect that gave him small forearms and no front paws, she thought she could help. Stephen Messenger for The Dodo reports:
The skilled staff at 3D Systems soon set about crafting a custom set of prosthetic legs that would not only help Derby to move more naturally, but that would also let him live out his full potential as an energetic pet. Several design attempts later, they finally settled on an oval-tread shape, designed to fit Derby's unique anatomy.
The design now lets Derby run and play with his new adoptive owners, Sherri and Dom Portonova, according to a statement from 3D Systems.
Derby’s new legs and story were showcased at this November’s Innovation Festival, the inaugural event of a five-year collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.