FDA OKs Artificial Arm That Does Complex Tasks

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FRIDAY, May 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The first artificial arm that can perform complex tasks was approved for sale May 9 in the United States.

The DEKA Arm System detects electrical signals in the muscles close to where the prosthetic is attached, which are then sent to a computer processor in the arm and translated into multiple movements, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which granted the marketing approval.

The agency's approval is based on clinical trials of the device, including one in which 36 military veterans tested the artificial arm in common household and self-care tasks.

Using the DEKA device, about 90 percent of the veterans were able to do things they couldn't do with their current artificial arm, including preparing food and feeding themselves, brushing and combing their hair, using keys and locks, and using zippers, the FDA said in an agency news release.

The DEKA prosthetic arm can be adapted to people who have limb loss at the shoulder joint, mid-upper arm or lower arm. It cannot be used for limb loss at the elbow or wrist joint.

"This innovative prosthesis provides a new option for people with certain kinds of arm amputations," Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the news release.

"The DEKA Arm System may allow some people to perform more complex tasks than they can with current prostheses in a way that more closely resembles the natural motion of the arm," she added.

The new prosthetic is made by DEKA Integrated Solutions in Manchester, N.H.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about artificial limbs.