A Dutch man has become the first person in the Netherlands to receive a mind-controlled prosthetic limb attached directly to his skeletal system. Patient Johan Baggerman can control his robotic arm through a Bluetooth 'bracelet' that detects signals from nerve endings in his arm socket, allowing him to control the limb just by thinking about it.
Unlike traditional prosthetics that require a prosthetic socket, Baggerman's arm is attached to a metal rob connected directly to his bone marrow. This allows the limb to clicked into place and removed easily, providing a wider range of movement well as avoiding chafing and similar skin problems caused by prosthesis sockets.
In order to have precise control of the limb, plastic surgeons had to attach the nerves used to control hand and arm movements to the muscles in Baggerman's upper arm, reports Science Daily.
Once these had grown in, the muscle signals became strong enough to be detected by electrodes surrounding the upper arm, which sends signals to a computer inside the arm via Bluetooth to allow movement.
The complex surgery required to attach the limb was done in three stages over the course of three years, and required a further year of rehabilitation for Baggerman to learn how to use his new arm.
Baggerman, who lost his left arm following a serious truck accident in 2010, is one of only a handful of patients to receive such a prosthesis. He still has one last stage of rehabilitation to complete, but once he does, Baggerman should have the same degree of control over his new, robotic limb as if it was his own.