We’ve all heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In this day and age, with the various wounds and injuries from war leaving many service members and Veterans in need, advancements in the treatment, care and adaptive equipment are vital.
Innovators from all fields and backgrounds have contributed to improving care for post-traumtic stress, traumatic brain injuries, transporting the wounded and injured, and providing overall healthcare. Segway inventor Dean Kamen is one of the latest innovators to make a much-needed contribution to improve the quality of life for war Veterans.
Kamen invented a prosthetic arm that provides a wide range of motion for amputees. Kamen has nicknamed his invention the “Luke arm,” in homage to the prosthetic arm fitted for character Luke Skywalker in the classic sci-fi saga “Star Wars.”
Amputees can operate the Luke arm through a Bluetooth sensor inside their shoe. The device is about the size of a matchbook, and is designed to mimic the foot’s movements.
Kamen’s company, DEKA, was given a federal grant of approximately $40 million to develop the technology. Kamen took the project on with the understanding that he would not be developing an item for the masses. Kamen knew that he was building this product for Veterans, with the hope that very few people will ever have to rely on his invention
“We didn’t start making these things because we thought it would be a big business,” Kamen said. “We made these things because these soldiers deserve the best possible technology that’s available.”
Kamen saw both a need and a way that he could help. And his invention should improve the lives of the men and women who lost arms from their war wounds. Eventually, all amputees will be able to use Kamen’s invention.
In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed DEKA to pursue manufacturing and commercial opportunities for the arm. Kamen said that DEKA is looking for a medical company that would be able take over the manufacturing and distribution of the Luke arm. But he said that his company would pursue the actions on its own if another company can’t be found.
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Military Connection: New Robotic Arm: By Debbie Gregory