The science of bionics helped the more than 1 million Americans1 with leg amputations take a giant step forward, as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) revealed clinical applications for the world’s first thought-controlled bionic leg in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine. This innovative technology represents a significant milestone in the rapidly-growing field of bionics. Until now, only thought-controlled bionic arms were available to amputees.
Levi Hargrove, PhD, the lead scientist of this research at RIC’s Center for Bionic Medicine, developed a system to use neural signals to safely improve limb control of a bionic leg.
“This new bionic leg features incredibly intelligent engineering,” said Hargrove. “It learns and performs activities unprecedented for any leg amputee, including seamless transitions between sitting, walking, ascending and descending stairs and ramps and repositioning the leg while seated.”
This method improves upon prosthetic legs that only use robotic sensors and remote controls and do not allow for intuitive thought control of the prosthetic.