The Alfred Man Foundation has developed a prosthetic hand that utilizes implantable myoelectric sensors known as the IMES system. It is a minimally invasive, intuitive control system that can help a patient control a prosthetic limb by reading the wearer's residual muscle movements.
According to reports, Staff Sergeant James Sides, who lost his right arm in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, is the first patient to test a myoelectric prosthetic hand.
The system takes advantage of the electrochemicals signals that exist in the body.
Tiny wireless platinum/iridium sensors, about 16 mm (0.66 inches) long, are embedded directly into the residual muscles of the amputee’s limb where they detect the
signals that go from the brain to the muscles and that control specific movements.
These signals are captured and sent wirelessly from the implanted sensor to a decoder box which serves as an electronic brain. Here the signals are translated into the intended movement in the artificial limb.
According to the Alfred Man Foundation, the IMES system essentially bridges the gap between the brain and the artificial limb, enabling the brain to intuitively control the prosthesis.
The system allows for three degrees of movement: opening and closing of the hand, rotation of the wrist 180 degrees clockwise and counter-clockwise, and lateral movement of the thumb.
With the combination of these three movements the artificial limb allows the patient to easily perform daily tasks.
According to reports, future systems will include up to 13 angles of motion and pre-programmed patterns, much like Touch Bionics’ i-Limb myoelectric hand.