Mind-Controlled Prosthetics: Dr. Doug Smith's work with thought-controlled myoelectric leg featured in the news

myoelectric legIvanhoe Newswire. There are two million people with amputations in the U.S. For many of these patients, prosthetic devices offer greater mobility. Now, researchers are testing a new generation of prosthetics that are like nothing you’ve seen...

[This] thought-controlled myoelectric leg does what Zac Vawter’s prosthetic can’t. Before Zac could use it, orthopedic surgeon Doug Smith took nerves from his lower leg and redirected them to his hamstring muscle.

"Instead of firing when you think about bending your knee, it would fire when you think about raising your ankle," Doug Smith, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Harborview/UW Medicine, told Ivanhoe.

Doug Smith, MD
Doug Smith, M.D.

When Zac wants to move the leg, the brain signal travels down his spinal cord, through the nerves; electrodes in the prosthetic pick up signals from the muscles. 

"You can have a prosthetic device that actually works according to your thought," Dr. Smith said.

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To read more about Dr. Smith's research, please see the Dept. of Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine eNews story on Drs. Doug Smith and Jason Ko's 2012 PRORP Clinical Trial Award entitled, “Targeted Reinnervation as a Means to Treat Neuromas Associated with Major Limb Amputation.