This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

November 8, 2006

Prostheses that Respond to Phantom Sensations

Employers have long struggled to accommodate the special needs of people with disabilities who have lost limbs. In the future, those employers may not need to be quite as concerned, because the new prosthetic arms and from Otto Bock are light years ahead of previous artificial limbs.

The toughest challenges faced by folks who have lost limbs are “phantom sensations.” Phantom sensations occur when the amputees believe that there are still feelings in their arms or legs that have been removed. The new arms from Otto Bock actually use those phantom sensations to trigger movement in the prosthetic arm or hand.

The interfaces between machine and man are called “myoelectrodes.” These clever devices sense the body’s impulses and move the hand accordingly. To check for compatibility, therapists use a machine called the “MyoBoy” to determine compatibility between amputees and the technology. Once compatibility is established and the person has been fitted with the new arm, there is a training period, but upon completion, users report “amazing” abilities, compared to previous artificial arms.

The microprocessors built into the arm also sense increasing weight and can increase the pressure to insure that the person does not drop a bottle or glass being filled with liquid.

Derek Domenici lost his right arm in a motorcycle accident and now wears an Otto Bock arm. Derek says “I am very fortunate. Though I lost my arm, I can still use my right hand.” He can still perform many functions he previously enjoyed, because of the capability of this state-of-the-art product.

Otto Bock also makes artificial legs that enable the amputee to walk normally, even on hills and stairs. It is the unique relationship between the on-board microprocessor and the hydraulic controls enables their product, called "The C-Leg”, that provides this higher performance. Other Bock innovations include Microprocessor Knees and Delta Twist Shock Absorbers.

These products offer a new generation of high tech prosthetics and the wave of the future for the industry. The implications of these devices are significant for employers who have been providing accommodations for some of their employees who are missing limbs.


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