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New surgery revolutionizing prosthetics

SEATTLE, July 30 (UPI) -- A new surgical procedure being implemented by Seattle surgeon Doug Smith is focused on offering prosthetic arms controlled by the mind.

The process involves the use of a mechanical hand controlled by a microprocessor and attaching a patient's median nerve to the muscles attached to the new appendage, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Monday.

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By attaching the muscles to the median nerve, that transmits signals from the brain, Smith is able to allow patients to directly control their new appendages with their minds, the newspaper said

Smith said he learned of the procedure from Dr. Todd Kuiken at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and has since completed such a surgery.

The procedure can be costly as the mechanical arm costs $90,000 and any patients who undergo the surgery must spend many hours learning how to operate the device.

Yet Smith said that the procedure offers a technologically advanced solution for an age-old problem.

"We're taking a surgery designed in the early 20th century, Smith told the Post-Intelligencer, "and using it for 21st-century artificial-limb technology."

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