'Luke Skywalker' arm gets green light from FDA

"Star Wars" technology is no longer restricted to a galaxy far, far away.
By Aileen Graef   |   May 12, 2014 at 6:29 PM  |  Updated May 12, 2014 at 6:49 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its approval for the DEKA Arm System, a robotic prosthetic controlled by the brain.

The DEKA Arm is nicknamed "Luke" after Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, who lost his arm after it was cut off by Darth Vader during a lightsaber fight in the iconic sci-fi film. He was then fitted with an arm he could control with his mind.

The DEKA Arm is controlled using electromyogram (EMG) electrodes connected to the user's muscles. The arm can perform up to ten simultaneous movements signaled by the electrodes when the wearer thinks of actions, such as touching or grasping.

This can help with tasks like picking up eggs and other delicate processes that are still difficult with modern prostheses.

The DEKA Arm was developed by Segway inventor Dean Kamen's team at DEKA Research with funding coming in part from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army Research Office.

Kamen said the arm can be fitted for people who lost their limb at the shoulder, mid-upper arm and mid-lower arm, but it cannot yet be adapted for limb loss at the elbow or wrist.

FDA approval means the DEKA Arm can be sold to the public but prices are not yet available.

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