Zac Vawter is the first amputee to test drive a mind controlled bionic leg.
According to Discovery News, Vawter, 32, lost his leg below the knee after a motorcycle accident four years ago.
The report continues on to say that the robotic leg decodes the electrical signals traveling through Vawter’s remaining leg muscles, and interprets his indented movements.
“In my mind, it’s still the same thing in terms of moving my ankle down or up, or extending my leg forward or back,” Vawter said to Bloomberg.
“It’s just walk like I would normally walk. It’s not special training or buttons or tricks. That’s a big piece of what I think is groundbreaking and phenomenal about this work.”
Bloomberg‘s report continues on to say that Vawter’s new leg allows him to seamlessly transition between walking and standing, with the biggest difference showing up when he is climbing stairs.
Discovery News stated that when wearing a conventional prosthetic and walking up stairs, he has to put the same foot first on each step he climbs.
It continued on to report Vawter saying, “Whereas with this leg, it’s more so that I just interact with my environment how a normal person would,” and can walk up stairs foot over foot.
So how does the bionic leg work? Discovery News reported the following:
“Researchers first performed a surgery on Vawter to redirect his nerve signals, so that signals that would have gone to the lower leg instead go to the healthy hamstring muscle, in the top part of his leg.”
Vawter told Bloomberg, “It’s still a prosthetic, but it’s in between the leg I wear every day and prior to amputation. It’s a dramatic improvement over my current prosthetic, but there is still a long way to go.”
What do you think of this new mind controlled bionic leg? While it’s been very helpful for Vawter, researchers say that there is a lot more work and research that needs to go into perfecting it.
[Image by Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago via Forbes]