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Luke Prosthetic Arm Approved By FDA

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the we-have-the-technology dept.

Biotech 59

necro81 writes: "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."

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Enhancements (2)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 6 months ago | (#46963317)

When I read about the idea of commercializing this product I thought to myself why should these types of gear be only for replacing limbs?

Would it be useful to have a third, fourth, or more arm attachments?

Could it open up new capacities for accomplishing manual tasks, for example?

Why should the amputees be the only ones who get cool toys?

Re:Enhancements (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963353)

Is that you, Dr. Octavius?

Re:Enhancements (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 6 months ago | (#46963375)

My question is why aren't amuptee toys cooler, why not go for a tentacle/flamethrower combo.

Re:Enhancements (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46964457)

Be careful what you wish for. Do you want to hear at your next job interview "We'd hire you, but since your limb cannot be replaced with a tool we want, you'll be 20% slower than someone who can. Of course, if you're willing to throw away your arm for the tool... What, if you really wanted the job you'd go that extra inch. You're just not committed, but we'll find someone who is".

Re:Enhancements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964923)

throw away your arm for the tool... What, if you really wanted the job you'd go that extra inch.

Hey HR lady, my tool has all the extra inches you'll need. Now put my paperwork in the manager's inbox while I prepare to do something similar.

Re:Enhancements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46965627)

OK, assume that active prosthetics ever get good enough to be more efficient than a regular arm holding a tool.
If someone is willing to modify his body to be better at the work than you, why do you think that you still should have the right to that job?
What you are suggesting is to limit what should be allowed so that someone else can't get the job no matter what they are willing to do.

Re:Enhancements (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46966927)

My problem is less the "humane" side of it, more the long term effect on society. We'll be flooded with people who replaced their limbs with tools to get a specific job, only to be completely unemployable after losing it. That would in the long term not only mean that we have a serious social problem at our hands, it also means that we will eventually run out of people to do the menial jobs of our society. And then what? Finally officially open the boarders for illegal immigrants?

Re:Enhancements (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46966937)

(see? You can even Ayn Rand the rebuke to your Any Rand answer)

Robotron Arms, Inc. (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 6 months ago | (#46964623)

Mainly because no matter how cool the prosthetic is, if you are minus a limb you still have a self-esteem blow that you don't want people thinking about your loss.

Despite it being the year 2014, humans are still largely the same group-think apes from 2000 years ago that will define you by how you are different from the other apes. And it might not even be "largely", it might even be "completely" even if the better behaved humans keep those thoughts to themselves.

Re:Enhancements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963383)

Case in point:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3c/GoroMKSM.jpg

Re:Enhancements (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46963541)

I suspect two main classes of reason (in addition to purely visceral distaste):

1. Prosthetics tend to exploit whatever remnant limb is available, from relatively primitive 'cup' type attachments that fit over a stump all the way to cutting edge nerve interface implants that allow conscious control of the prosthesis. These just aren't available for limbs that humans never have: even in the case of complete amputation, you still get to take advantage of the skeleton being set up for a load-bearing attachment in a given location, not so if a limb doesn't go there.

2. In practice, humans use 'prosthetic' aids all the time, they just don't imitate limbs all that closely and are often left at the work site. Just think of all the various clamps, vises, jigs, tripods, stands, etc, etc, etc, that act as 3rd through Nth hands during operations that require them. It tends to be far easier and cheaper to skip trying to replicate the (highly complex, but very versatile) structure of the hand and just knock together some relatively simple, task specific, tool, possibly a collection of them used for a sequence of assembly operations.

Re:Enhancements (2)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 6 months ago | (#46964239)

2. In practice, humans use 'prosthetic' aids all the time, they just don't imitate limbs all that closely and are often left at the work site.

As do many amputees. Many don't want to wear something that is hot, heavy, and not really part of them all the time. They just don them when they need the tool, do what they need to do, then take them off.

Re:Enhancements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964291)

They've had people control computer mice and keyboards and tone generating software for a long time which is not that much different then controlling a new limb.

So the only thing really stopping us is engineering something that would fit onto a persons existing skeletal structure.

Seen this tech in the public perview for a long time now. It's just really complicated and expensive outside of a laboratory in a practical environment.

Re:Enhancements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964311)

^ through brain interfaces, both implanted and just read via wearable prosthesis. It takes a lot of time to learn and get good control either way. They both work out to fairly similar granularity in readings. (Implantation is generally overkill)

it would be better to design an exoskeletal wearable device that is controlled through a ecg

Re:Enhancements (1)

dkf (304284) | about 6 months ago | (#46965029)

it would be better to design an exoskeletal wearable device that is controlled through a ecg

You want to control some kind of exoskeleton via your heartbeat? That seems... excessively tricky to use.

Re:Enhancements (2)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | about 6 months ago | (#46963553)

When I read about the idea of commercializing this product I thought to myself why should these types of gear be only for replacing limbs?

Would it be useful to have a third, fourth, or more arm attachments?

Sure. That -would- be neat, but then you couldn't buy shirts off the rack anymore.

Luke arm? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963323)

Just how accurate is it? Will you be able to use the Force after installation? Will you still be able to install it after a lightsaber wound?

Re:Luke arm? (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 months ago | (#46963385)

Will you be able to use the Force after installation?

No, otherwise Darth Vader would have been able to use Sith Lightning.

Re:Luke arm? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46964463)

Then why could Luke pull the light saber to him with the replacement hand?

Re:Luke arm? (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#46963489)

Does this make Dean Kamen Darth Vader? After all, he created Luke.

More Important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964899)

Can you wipe your ass with it?

Wait, I'm confused (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 6 months ago | (#46963339)

I thought slashdot was into 3d printed prosthetics [slashdot.org] without the high tech overhead.

Re:Wait, I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963427)

I'm sure that shit you scratch up on a 3-D printer is just as safe and effective as something that's had several thousand hours of clinical trials. Absolutely. The FDA couldn't possibly be there to protect people; it's only to crush the little guy.

Re:Wait, I'm confused (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 6 months ago | (#46963487)

" it's only to crush the little guy."

That part seems about right...

Re:Wait, I'm confused (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#46963525)

I'm sure that shit you scratch up on a 3-D printer is just as safe and effective as something that's had several thousand hours of clinical trials. Absolutely. The FDA couldn't possibly be there to protect people; it's only to crush the little guy.

I'm still at a loss as to why the Food and Drug Administration is in charge of approving wearable robots. Now if we were talking true cybernetics where installation was an invasive procedure... actually, even then I can't see why people in charge of regulating what we consume should be regulating; Isn't there some more appropriate office for this stuff?

Why is it up to UL and Co. to regulate if a person has all their body parts, but as soon as you're considered malformed, the FDA steps in?

Re:Wait, I'm confused (1)

Old Fatty Baldman (3630557) | about 6 months ago | (#46963585)

Because you presumably aren't going to ask your health insurance or medicare to pay for that wicked-cool bionic third arm?

Re: Wait, I'm confused (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 6 months ago | (#46964791)

Apparently you don't don a prosthetic or your words would be different.

I am -- literally -- shocked (and pleased!) (2)

Slartibartfast (3395) | about 6 months ago | (#46963481)

After years of working at Segway (though not while Dean was around), I'd had no small exposure to his... ethos. And, generally, he most excelled at self-promotion. To see an engineer from the project answering -- in detail -- questions about it simply floors me. Perhaps Dean has reached the stage where he's willing to let others have a shot at the limelight? Whatever the reason -- congrats to the team for their hard work, and to Dean for giving them the opportunity to pursue it! My ex-boss actually ran the team for about a year, before he decided to leave for other pastures, but I'm sure that those who are still there are exceptional engineers, and should be proud of their hard work. Kudos all around.

Segway (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963711)

From an engineeing standpoint, Segway is pretty cool.

From a societal one, it is a worthless consumer item.

That's where I have been having personal issues lately - all engineering jobs are for creating worthless consumer crap; like the Segway.

Now, creating artificial limbs is a worthy endeavor but I would have a real problem if the company that manufactured them was making an obscence profit. Keeping your doors open and even making a 45% operating margin is one thing and understandable, but some of these fuckers are making hundreds of percentage points just because they can - and enriching no one but the CEOs.

Re:Segway (3, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | about 6 months ago | (#46964281)

That's where I have been having personal issues lately - all engineering jobs are for creating worthless consumer crap; like the Segway.

Keep in mind that the technology behind the Segway wasn't invented for the Segway; it was invented for this wheelchair. [youtube.com]

The Segway got the attention because it's something that had the potential to have a much broader market, considering that the population that can't walk is pretty small.

Re:Segway (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46965875)

considering that the population that can't walk is pretty small.

Here at Segway, we're trying to change that [youtube.com] ...

Figuratively (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964515)

You are figuratively shocked. You are literally surprised.

Unless your prosthetic limb has an electrical malfunction, or your amputation is causing catastrophic blood loss. In which case, I withdraw my objection and suggest an ambulance.

Re:Figuratively (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46965879)

One of the several meanings - and in fact, in at least two dictionaries, the primary meaning - of "shocked" is "surprised."

How much will it cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963505)

How much will it cost? Six million dollars perhaps?

Re:How much will it cost? (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#46964085)

How much will it cost? Six million dollars perhaps?

Six million will get you a matching pair of legs and an eye to go with the arm.

The force is strong with this one! (1)

Atl Rob (3597807) | about 6 months ago | (#46963509)

Gotta love it!

but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963533)

Luke only lost his hand

The word is "soldiers" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963615)

to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors

The word for combat military service personnel is "soldiers". "Warriors" is clumsy propaganda, and should not be used in any serious context.

RE: The word is "soldiers" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963733)

The United States has been at war literally continuously since September 2001. "Warrior" is exactly accurate.

"Soldier" on the other hand, is both imprecise and inaccurate. "Soldier" refers mainly to those who serve in the Army. Air Force personnel are all "Airmen", even those who serve on the ground (often behind enemy lines). "Sailors" is the term for Navy personel. And Marines are just Marines and decidedly NOT soldiers.

As much as you flap your gums about "propaganda", you seem to know very little about the meaning of the words you are criticizing.

Re: The word is "soldiers" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964935)

"Soldier" on the other hand, is both imprecise and inaccurate. "Soldier" refers mainly to those who serve in the Army. Air Force personnel are all "Airmen", even those who serve on the ground (often behind enemy lines). "Sailors" is the term for Navy personel. And Marines are just Marines and decidedly NOT soldiers.

don't forget the officers!

robotic assembly with human involvement (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 6 months ago | (#46963885)

Imagine one amputee (or even an able handed person) controlling hundreds or thousands of these to assemble things in a follow-my-lead manner. Computer vision based verification could compare the state of each of the things or 'gizmo' being assembled, with the 'master gizmo' the human is interactively building. In case of mismatch, gizmos with problems could be put away to sort out later.

Re:robotic assembly with human involvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46963917)

Or like it's actuall done in factories with a computer recording the movements and playing it back to as many robots as necessary.
The human is only needed for the first one.

Re: robotic assembly with human involvement (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 6 months ago | (#46964183)

Correct, same thing, but customizable for small batches (custom gizmo, or artwork)

Why the hell... (3, Interesting)

Bartles (1198017) | about 6 months ago | (#46964031)

...does the FDA have to approve a non-implanted prosthetic? Why are prosthetics so expensive?

Re:Why the hell... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46964101)

I was about to post the following, when I realised I wasn't logged in. When I logged in, your post had appeared. So:

Subject: Why does the FDA have to get involved?

It's not food. It's not a drug. There's no surgery involved, as far as I can tell.

Why does the FDA have to get involved with something that is, essentially, a wearable tool? If I wanted to mod a reacher [amazon.co.uk] into something I could strap to my arm, with a couple of electrodes attached to, say, my forehead to detect a raised eyebrow and active the claw, would I need FDA approval to sell it?

Re:Why the hell... (3, Informative)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 6 months ago | (#46964383)

It's being marketed as a medical device, and the FDA also has authority over medical devices. They approve things like MRI machines and EKG machines to ensure they actually work as advertized. Also, this one is apparently capable of using electromyogram electrodes, which may be intramuscular (needles implanted into the muscles) and not just those attached to the skin.

Re:Why the hell... (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about 6 months ago | (#46966665)

Yes I understand all this. MRI's and EKG's are used for monitoring and diagnosis. A prosthetic is not. If it doesn't work as advertised, it's pretty obvious. Still looking for the answer why.

Re:Why the hell... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46975173)

Perhaps this, then, at a guess that came to me later:

Insurance won't pay for it unless it's FDA approved [citation needed], and if it is FDA approved, it'll be so expensive only most people's insurance will be able to buy it.

Re:Why the hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46978059)

That's almost certainly the reason. Mass uptake won't be from wealthy amputees, but from healthcare insurance. To get that market, you have to be on the approved list (which is no bad thing, as the list should make sure that for all the gee-whizz tech, it's actually useful).

Tee hee: Captcha: "certify"

Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964465)

government MUST protect the big businesses that climb into bed with it. Why would ANY company give campaign money to politicians who want to increase the power of the FDA over businesses if there was no benefit to that company for doing it? If companies already in the market and with already approved products support the high hurdles to entry, then they benefit greatly from reduce innovation and reduced competition and artificially-inflated prices for their products.

Requiring FDA approval for implanted devices and drugs MIGHT be justified and MIGHT be a good thing, but there is NO legitimate reason for the FDA to be involved with things like hearing aids and (non-implanted) prosthetics. Note: although generations of Americans have been propagandized into thinking they need a government agency to protect them on medical matters, there are free-market alternatives that work very well. Ever notice you do not need a government agency overseeing the electrical devices in your home? Most products voluntarily go to the non-government "Underwriter's Laboratory" to get tested and then marked with the ubiquitous "UL" seal, which we all recognize. UL is arguably a superior standard and system than government would implement; they have the right to perform unannounced spot-checks of vendors' production lines (as part of their agreements with product makers), and do so more-often than government regulators likely would. UL also lacks the inherent conflicts of interest that government has when it writes and enforces the laws and regulations, and certifies products and services and then engages in open-ended fund-raising and political campaigns with lots of winks and nudges. A similar free-market medical certification institution (to UL) could be created for drugs and implantable devices, and as with UL, members of the public could freely choose to buy or not buy items based on that certification (UL has no ability to use force on anybody)

Huh (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 6 months ago | (#46964123)

to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those...

So, no love for those who ride the short bus...??

Extensive testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964211)

[quote]Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. [/quote]
So... They've only been using them for a couple of weeks.

uncanny valley territory? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 6 months ago | (#46964325)

Maybe it's just me... but that arm seems to be close enough to lifelike that it looks a kind of creepy..

Now the vet just needs to schedule an appointment- (1)

asjk (569258) | about 6 months ago | (#46964369)

oh, NVM.

I Hate Negroes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46964705)

Just wanted to let you all know that I hate Negroes. They are evil. They smell, and speak animal monkey talk. They are parasites who suck at the government tit. They rob, steal, rape, and murder. Oh, for a new Fuhrer who would solve the Negro problem! Let's cleanse the world of this black scourge!

Re:I Hate Negroes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46965393)

Just wanted to say nobody gives a flying fuck what idiots like you think.

Luke, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46965517)

I am your father!

Thats nice, but what about the mind-limb interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46966231)

Next time you look at the amazing tech demos one of the many goverment funded prothetic limb manufacturers produces make a note to have a look at how many isolated movments they can do at the same time. They will normally be only able to do a few - mostly due to the fact that there is no way to sense that a person wants to say both abduct their shoudler, flex their elbow, extend their wrist and oppose their thumb and 2nd digit. With the loss of the limb is the loss of the terminal nerve connections. In my knowlege there is some reaserch on controlling prothetic limbs by attemptning to reattach the periphial nerve to more proximal muscle so that one can sense or by directly communicating with the brain - as far as I know however these are still very much in their infancy. In addition, reciving feedback on pressure and temperature is also very challanging.

IMHO we will continue to have the problem that all single upper limb amputees will prefer to forgo their limb, as it is more cumbersome than learning to use the uninjured side, untill we solve the problem with how to communicate with the technology.

TLDR: Buliding a robotic arm with 10 degrees of freedom is much easier than trying to interface it with the human mind.

Probably not successful (1)

Bugamn (1769722) | about 6 months ago | (#46969367)

I heard it had a lukewarm reception.
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