Prosthetics are slowly but surely moving into the world of robotics. Earlier this year, a man was able to control a robotic hand by simply using his mind to send it commands. Now the same feat has been accomplished with a robotic leg.
Nature reports that an unnamed 32-year-old man lost his knee and lower leg after a motorcycle accident in 2009. This year, researchers fitted him with a prosthetic leg that could be controlled with his mind. In the video below, you'll see the results of their efforts:
As you can see, he's able to walk normally with the prosthetic. Other amputees who have been outfitted with traditional prosthetics have been able to make due, but there was always something missing. With this new leg, he's able to do almost anything a normal leg can do. It's noted that he can even kick a football or sit down without having to reposition it.
Now, incredibly impressive work has already been done in this field with robotic limbs that can be controlled via electrical impulses sent by the brain. What makes this breakthrough impressive is that scientists used a method called targeted muscle reinnervation to introduce more accurate movement into the leg. Here's how it works:
The technology is in the early stages of production, but it's not too far out from widespread adoption. In fact, researchers say that they should be able to outfit amputees with this technology within the next three to five years.[Image: Nature Newsteam]