A futuristic prosthetic arm that is comparable to Luke Skywalker’s arm from “Star Wars” has received the green light for clinical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA approved the device after considering data on a study of 36 participants, funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as other data from tests and trials funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.
The arm is known as the “DEKA arm” originally a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project. The DEKA Arm System was created by DEKA Integrated Solutions in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The artificial limb uses wireless signals from sensors in the user’s feet and other inputs to direct the arm’s multiple joints. The arm comes in different options and grips however all are about the same size and weight as a natural limb, and all are battery-powered.
DARPA spent more than $40 million in funding to DEKA to develop the robotic arm as part of a $100 million project to improve prosthetics.
“It was designed to produce near-natural upper extremity control to injured people who have suffered amputations. This arm system has the same size, weight, shape and grip strength as an adult’s arm would be able to produce,” Justin Sanchez, a program manager in DARPA’s biological technologies office, said in a telephone interview with Reuters.