Imagine a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb designed to quickly integrate with your own body, a limb that could give you the capability to grasp a small paintbrush or a pair of chopsticks. Now imagine that limb with a traditional prosthetic socket interface, one that uses friction and pressure to secure it, compromising its function and comfort. This was the problem faced by the developers of the LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) Arm. The LUKE arm needed an interface as elegant as its design. That’s where we came in.
Approved by the FDA in 2014 and in development for nearly a decade, the revolutionary Luke Arm was designed by Segway creator Dean Kamen and his company, DEKA. While the device’s intuitive nature and ability to execute extremely fine and flexible movements is groundbreaking, the challenge of human integration presented its own unique challenges. Traditional socket designs act more as a “cup” to hold the limb allowing the bone and surrounding tissue to move inside it. The result of this “disconnect” is the loss of skeletal integrity with much-wasted motion, not to mention the discomfort caused by constant friction. How would the LUKE interface replicate the skeletal motion and nearly seamless extension needed to work this highly advanced prosthetic device? Continue reading “How We Developed the LUKE Arm Interface”→
If you have a prosthesis, you know the time and care taken in ensuring the socket is exactly the right size and dimension and integrates seamlessly with your residual limb. The fitting of your prosthesis is especially demanding from a technical and anatomical perspective. Consequently, no two are the same; your prosthetic limb is as unique as you are, part of a unique and complex human-device equation.
It’s that time of year again when we pack up and get out of town for vacation. If you are anticipating a flight or getting on the (not so) open road, traveling with a prosthesis takes some extra preparation and planning. Whether you are staying in the U.S. or traveling abroad, while we can’t promise a stress-free traveling experience, we can help avoid some common challenges.
Before You Go
You’ll want to inspect your prosthesis at least a month before you travel. If you see any cracks, tears, loose parts, or if the fit has changed, see your prosthetist to make sure it is in top shape. Also, visit your prosthetist for guidance and any recommended equipment if you will be engaging in special or prolonged activity. Not only does he/she know you and your prosthesis best, the last thing you want to do is look for a prosthetist while you’re on vacation far from home. Continue reading “Traveling with a Prosthesis – Navigating Airport Security, Road Trips, and Unfamiliar Destinations”→
For my hike in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the top of the Nyiragongo Volcano, it didn’t take too much preparation because I’d already been hiking a lot in Mount Kilimanjaro and other places. But one of the biggest considerations I always have is my knees. So, I had knee surgery several times and what that means is that my prosthetic is meant to make sure that it’s not putting a lot of pressure on those incision marks but it still does just because the nature of hiking requires you to have a lot of mobility and flexibility in your knees. Continue reading “Preparing For a Hike – Mountain Climbing – Life As An Amputee”→
If you’re the parent of a child with limb loss, the prospect of sending your child to school, camp, or daycare can be overwhelming. We don’t have to tell you what it can be like out there, and no doubt you remember trials when you were in school. Things haven’t changed. The fact is, kids can be cruel, even to children without apparent differences. However, they can also be incredibly compassionate and protective.
How will your child cope with being on their own in a new environment? How will other students, and even their teachers react? How can you protect them from the teasing and insensitive comments you know will most likely come their way? The good news is you are not alone. Many parents have faced the same challenges. (Read this parent’s experience in a previous blog post.) There are very effective steps you can take to smooth the transition and help ensure your child has a positive school experience.
In development for nearly a decade, the revolutionary Luke Arm will soon be available. Designed and produced by Segway creator Dean Kamen’s company, DEKA, and funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Next Step has partnered in the critical fit and testing since the beginning of the project. Approved by the FDA in 2014, the Luke Arm represents Life Under Kinetic Evolution.
What sets the Luke Arm apart? Simply put, its intuitive integration into the user’s body movements. The human arm and hand with its opposable thumb and five independently articulated fingers, is incredibly complex and capable. The prosthesis uses electrodes placed on the amputated limb (above the elbow or below the elbow) to pick up electrical signals from the user’s muscles. Compared to the typical prosthesis controlled by switches or buttons, or even controlled manually, the Luke Arm is capable of extremely fine as well as flexible movements. What does it feel like for an amputee to be able to reach over their head to pluck an apple from a tree or pick up a heavy piece of equipment, or delicately peel a banana? Now it will be possible for amputees to experience these and many more life experiences that they haven’t been able to since losing their limb.
Kamen’s group even tackled the key reason amputees don’t wear their prosthetic limb – comfort. Unlike the traditional connection method that relies on the greatest possible surface area contact between flesh and the prosthetic arm (causing friction, heat, and pain), Randy Alley, C.P. from Biodesigns, Inc. in Westlake Village, California, along with assistance from Next Step, developed a socket that was made for the Luke Arm called the Hi Fidelity Interface, this socket is also adaptable to traditional prostheses. Continue reading “The Breakthrough Bionic Arm for Upper Limb Amputees”→
If you have a prosthetic limb, you know the challenges that come with daily wear under the best of circumstances. With the advent of spring, though, you and your prosthesis will be faced with weather of every sort – rain, snow and sleet, and, everyone’s favorite — the ever-present mud. What precautions should you take? Maintaining your prosthesis to ensure both you and your prosthetic limb will weather the weather is very doable. Whether or not you have a waterproof prosthesis, you don’t have to (nor should you) stay indoors; conquer whatever spring throws at you with a few simple steps:
Prosthetic socks are your best friend. Take good care of them, so they can take good care of you. Be aware of changes in limb volume due to weather conditions or exercise and be prepared to compensate (this blog post on summer activities provides additional tips). If your sock becomes soiled, excessively wet, or muddy don’t wait to change it and clean the socket. Continue reading “Maintaining Your Prosthesis in Spring Rain, Sleet, and Mud”→
Who isn’t psyched for longer days, warmer temperatures, and the chance to get back out there and enjoy our favorite spring sports and activities? It’s also a great way to connect with other athletes and enjoy the camaraderie of taking on challenges together. If you’re ready to explore something new or are a more recent amputee ready to get active, you probably have some questions about your options, what you’ll need, and where you can go to find the resources and programs that are just right for you. To help, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite resources with the information and sports activities guaranteed to help get athletes at any level back on the field.
Disabled Sports USA has valuable information on many diverse sports – both the popular and a little off the beaten path (Boccia anyone?). This is a great place to start with questions on what to expect and what preparation/equipment you will need. Be sure to check out adaptive sport locations here.