Mobius Bionics' Luke bionic arm to hit the market by the end of the year

13 July 2016

Medical device firm Mobius Bionics said today that its Luke bionic arm, which had been 10 years in the making would be available by the end of the year. The device would help amputees lift and grip objects.

The LUKE arm is the first prosthetic arm cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the new product category for integrated prosthetic arms.

The device would be available at Best Buy; via licensed healthcare professionals. However, once it was released, Luke would "change the game for amputees," according to the company.

The technology dated back to 2006, when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sought out ideas for creating upper-extremity prosthetics for amputees, who had lost their limbs in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DEKA Research, run by personal transport devices maker Segway's founder and inventor Dean Kamen developed the Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) prosthetic.

The arm offers state-of-the-art flexibility, strength, and dexterity to provide greater independence for people with forearm through shoulder-level amputations. ''[This arm's] functionality far surpasses anything that I've had so far,'' said a participant who used the arm in DEKA's clinical study. Mobius Bionics is now accepting names of people interested in owning one of the first LUKE arms.

Over the years, the Luke arm had been tested by nearly 100 amputees for over 10,000 hours of use. It received FDA approval in 2014. "This innovative prosthesis provides a new option for people with certain kinds of arm amputations," the FDA said at the time. "The DEKA Arm System may allow some people to perform more complex tasks than they can with current prostheses in a way that more closely resembles the natural motion of the arm."

The Luke takes its name from Luke Skywalker's advanced prosthetic limb in Star Wars. The Luke comes with a sophisticated control system, which uses electrodes placed on the amputated limb to pick up electrical signals from the user's muscles. Luke changes its position and grip as  users tenses or flex their arm.

This is much more intuitive than basic prosthetics, which are generally controlled with switches or buttons, or adjusted manually by the wearer. Luke also comes with a separate control system that uses wireless sensors placed in the wearer's shoe.

The Luke also packs more flexibility and movement than conventional prosthetics. With the shoulder, elbow, and wrist all individually powered, the wearer is able to reach over their head and behind their back.

Unmatched by current devices, the LUKE arm is an advanced prosthesis with many innovative features that give amputees the capability they deserve, including:

  • A powered shoulder with the capability to reach overhead or behind the back
  • A powered elbow with the strength to lift a bag of groceries from floor to tabletop
  • A powered, multi-movement wrist with the precision, range of motion, and dexterity to hold a glass of water overhead or at waist level without spilling
  • A hand with four independent motors and a conforming grip to hold everything from delicate items such as a phone or an egg to heavy items such as a gallon of milk without worrying that the item will slip or break
  • An innovative grip-force sensor that senses how firmly something is being grasped and communicates that information to the user
  • A variety of ways to control the arm, including electromyographic (EMG) electrodes and foot-mounted inertial measurement sensors
  • Protection against water and dust offering peace of mind when used inside and outside the home.

All of these features and capabilities are provided to the prosthetist as a complete system, eliminating any potential compatibility issues between joints or components.

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