Össur is a company based in Iceland and has been manufacturing an innovative bionic limb for amputees that can be controlled by the mind of the user. It sounds like a fantasy idea, however, by making use of small implanted myoelectric sensors (IMES) in the residual muscle tissue of an amputee, the process becomes feasible and practical.
When the user thinks of performing a certain movement, before it is implemented the brain sends a signal to the relevant muscle group for execution of the movement. This signal is picked up by IMES and is then sent to the receiver incorporated into the bionic limb. The received signal then orders the prosthesis’ movement to take place. The device has been designed so that it adapts to the walking style and scenario of individual user. This allows the device to pick up on how a user walks and can ascertain when a user wishes to walk, run or climb stairs.
The device is the child of two fields; mechanics and electronics. The electronic components include the sensors and electrical signals that are transmitted between the receiver and sensor. The mechanical components are the parts that carry out the order by moving. (The combination of electronics and mechanical is also known as mechatronics.)
President and CEO of Össur, Jon Sigurdsson during the company’s Capital Markets Day in Copenhagen, said on 20th May, “Mind-controlled Bionic prosthetic legs are a remarkable clinical breakthrough in next-generation Bionic technology, By adapting not only to the individual’s intentional movements but to intuitive actions, we are closer than ever to creating prosthetics that are truly integrated with their user.”
Dr. Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, M.D., Ph.D, the orthopedic surgeon leading the research and development of the mid-controlled prosthesis project at Össur said, “The technology allows the user’s experience with their prosthesis to become more intuitive and integrative. The result is the instantaneous physical movement of the prosthesis however the amputee intended. They no longer need to think about their movements because their unconscious reflexes are automatically converted into myoelectric impulses that control their Bionic prosthesis.”
CEO’s quote is perfect for concluding this post, “As a global leader in prosthetics and orthopaedics, we at Össur never stop innovating. We are resolute in our commitment to expand the boundaries of possibility, so that we may help even more people enjoy a life without limitations.”