“Star Wars” fans will never forget how cool it was to see Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand in “The Empire Strikes Back” for the first time. While the nostalgia continues to thrive, the robotic hand has taken on a whole new meaning for amputees receiving the life-changing “LUKE Arm.
Developed by a team, led by University of Utah biomedical engineering associate professor Gregory Clark, the “LUKE Arm” mimics the way a human hand feels objects by sending the appropriate signals to the brain. The “LUKE” Arm enables amputees to complete delicate tasks, such as picking up an egg without cracking it, plucking grapes without crushing them, peeling a banana and putting on a wedding ring.
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The prosthetic arm taps into the amputee’s nerves that are implanted with 100 microelectrodes and wires in the forearm and connected to a computer outside of the body. These nerves are also considered “biological wires that send signals to the arm to move.”
The “LUKE” Arm is made up of metal motors, including a clear silicon “skin” over the hand. It runs on an external battery and is wired to a computer. It was developed by DEKA Research & Development Corp., a New Hampshire-based company founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen.