Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Claudia Mitchell, Bionic Hero

September 11, 2008 by Rico Mossesgeld  
Filed under Robots

claudia-mitchell.jpgThe $3.5 million dollar woman is pushing the limits with a surprising discovery: she’s starting to feel with her prosthetic left arm again.

This isn’t the “phantom limb” phenomenon commonly reported by amputees. To properly “wire” the prosthetic to Claudia Mitchell’s brain, scientists had to move the shoulder nerves responsible for arm control and feedback to her chest. Ms. Mitchell now reports that, any sensation on her left chest seems to register as coming from her “left arm”.

Claudia Mitchell lost her left arm back in 2004, due to motorcycle accident. In 2006, scientists fitted her with an advanced prosthetic, wired directly to her brain so that she would be able to move the arm through thought alone. This was partly a necessity, since the severity of her injury meant that she was no longer able to use the nerves though to be responsible for controlling a conventional prosthetic. At the same time however, this means that Mitchell can clench her fingers, move her thumb, and bend her wrist through mere thought.

This development indicates that sensory nerves can recover, and gives scientists new hope into creating bionic limbs that provide full sensory and manipulation capabilities. (dailymail.co.uk, photo courtesy of the AP)

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