Bionic Leg Makes Walking Much Easier for Amputees

(VitalNews.org) – A bionic leg that is controlled by the brain has allowed those with amputations to walk and be able to navigate through stairs and walk more quickly than before.

This bionic leg is able to let the person wearing it flex, rotate the foot, and point it using just their thoughts to control it. The ability of the wearer being able to move like this, allowed for a more natural gait, improved stability, and the ability to move more swiftly and quickly. The leg works by reading the patient’s residual leg muscles and then using those signals to control the leg.

Prof Hugh Herr, a co-director of the K Lisa Yang Center for Bionics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “No one has been able to show this level of brain control that produces a natural gait, where the human’s nervous system is controlling the movement, not a robotic control algorithm.”

He continued, “Not only will they be able to walk on a flat surface, but they’ll be able to go hiking or dancing because they’ll have full control over their movement.”

Herr is an amputee himself and has lost both of his legs to severe frostbite after being stuck in a blizzard. He’s said that he hopes to have revision surgery that would allow him to reap the full benefits of a bionic leg like this one in the future.

Herr said, “With a prosthesis not controlled by the brain, patients view it as a tool, like a carpenter would view their hammer.”

He continued, “When the person can directly control and feel the movement of the prosthesis it becomes truly part of the person’s anatomy. That can be quite emotional for the subjects that undergo this procedure.”

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