A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports.
STORY: This Swedish amputee plugs his prosthetic limb directly into the bone of his arm. Once screwed in place, it connects electrodes to his nerves and muscles... translating his thoughts into action. Identified only as Magnus, he's been trialing the bionic arm since January 2013, and reports say it's given him an unprecedented level of dexterity. Professor Rickard Brånemark of Sahlgrenska University Hospital says this device is designed to become a part of the body. He says integrating mind and machine was a major accomplishment. (SOUNDBITE)(English) ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT SAHLGRENSKA UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL RICKARD BRÅNEMARK, SAYING: "It is a combination of two techniques. One technique is working with implantable electrodes that can pick up signals in the body and bring it out to a computer or a robotic arm and these electrodes can also send signals into the body." The second technique is called osseointergration - the process of connecting the prosthetic directly to the bone, giving Magnus greater mechanical stability and control. Branemark says the next step is to develop an interface to allow users to actually feel what the prosthetic is handling. (SOUNDBITE)(English) ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT SAHLGRENSKA UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL RICKARD BRÅNEMARK SAYING: "The hand is a fantastic tool and you have all those sophisticated movements, you have social interaction, you have sensory feedback that is tremendous. That is not something that we can do today but our technology is showing that we have taken the first step to have something to communicate back and forth with the human brain." And that accomplishment has allowed to Magnus to resume nearly all of his normal daily activities, including intricate tasks like tying the laces of his children's shoes and handling delicate items. The team in Sweden plan to continue perfecting the union between body and machine. They say it will take more research, but an artificial prosthetic that can touch, feel and move like a real limb may soon be a reality.