Meet Claudia Mitchell, the first woman with a bionic arm.
In 2006 she was outfitted with the arm to replace the arm she lost in a motorcycle accident. Her prosthesis, a prototype developed by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is one of the most advanced prosthetic arms developed to date.
Mitchell, who lives in Ellicott City, was the fourth person- and first woman- to receive a “bionic” arm, which allows her to control parts of the device by her thoughts alone. The device works by detecting the movements of a chest muscle that has been rewired to the stumps of nerves that once went to her now-missing limb.
She hopes to upgrade to a prosthesis, still under development, that will allow her also to “feel” with an artificial hand.
A while after the initial surgery, surgeons took the first step by rewiring the skin above her left breast so that when the area is stimulated by impulses from the bionic arm, the skin sends a message to the region of her brain that feels “hand.”
Future arms will be able to perform even more precise movements, but even the first-generation device “has changed my life dramatically,” she said. “I use it to help with cooking, for holding a laundry basket, for folding clothes — all kinds of daily tasks.”
Technology like this gives hope for the future because it is a great example how science can actually improve the quality of people’s life!
You can see a video of her using her bionic arm here: