8 Years Later, DEKA Prosthetic Arms From DARPA Gets FDA Approval
The US Food and Drug Administration has just approved DARPA’s advanced electromechanical prosthetic upper limb that has an almost-natural experience that gives the amputees more independence and improves their quality of lives. DARPA started working on the prototypes of this project 8 years ago through the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program.
This marks a milestone development in the varieties choices for prosthetics by the amputees; but an even greater milestone achievement in terms of upper-limb prosthetic technology which has been lagging behind the lower-limb technology. This is from expert’s experience; the upper-limb prosthetics technology has always proved to be a difficult medical and engineering challenge compared to lower-limb prosthetics technology.
The majority of prosthetic technologies already in existence are mainly body-powered prosthetics; such as the split-hook prosthetic arms invented back in 1912. This new invention from DARPA takes the technology several notches higher as a result of the thorough research and considerable development investments made in the invention of this new upper limb prosthetic technology. The DEKA Arm system enables multiple joints control using several input devices that encompasses wireless signals that are generated using innovative sensors set on the amputee’s feet.
The DEKA Arm is battery powered and weighs just as much as a natural limb would weigh. It is also similar in size. It is fitted with six customized grips option and it is meant for amputees over 18 years and above. To make the DEKA Arm a reality, there had to a lot of technological breakthroughs which includes miniaturization of motors, sensors, computer controls and ensuring the manufacturing process still yield a lightweight product but strong as per the set standards.
The prosthetic arms is capable of holding very delicate objects such as eggs and grapes as well as manipulating complicated tools like the hand drill. It is equipped with sensors that will give users a feedback on just how much strength is in their grip, thus preventing them from destroying whatever they are handling using the DEKA Arm.
The Revolutionizing Prosthetics programs got several contributions from the following federal agencies listed below:
- US Army Research Office gave contract management support.
- US Army Medical Research and Material Command provided the funds to make the tests and trials necessary to comply with the FDA requirements.
- The FDA played its part by reviewing the information from the Department of Veterans Affairs-funded Optimization Study.
The DEKA Arm System was manufactured by DEKA Integrated Solutions in Manchester N.H. Now that they have gotten the FDA approval, this means that DEKA can begin large scale manufacturing for commercial use to give prosthetics upper limbs to the amputees in the consumer market.