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‘Star Wars’ Inspired Invention Helps Those Missing An Arm

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Eliott-Rodriguez-600x450 Eliott Rodriguez
Eliott Rodriguez is an Emmy Award winning journalist and respected...
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new advancement in robotics may help those missing an arm to grasp a new future.

The “Luke Arm” is a remarkable advancement named after the prosthetic arm Luke Skywalker received in Star Wars.

The new invention is brought by Dean Kamen, the man who invented the Segway and many other medical devices

“It’s a great technical accomplishment. But more than that…we’re supplying an extraordinary capability…to some extraordinary people. These people who have literally given their arms to the country deserve this kind of support,” said Kamen. “Our goal was to try to bring so much functionality to the hand..that it would be like the Luke arm.”

The arm is built from tiny computers, acceleramoters, gyroscopes, and materials created from 3-D printers. The Luke Arm is equipped with six pre-programmed grips.

It’s controlled by wireless sensors in a client’s shoes much like a joystick.  Roll a foot to one side or the other, or forwards and backwards and the arm responds by bending, twisting, opening, closing, and grasping.

Wearers can eat, peel carrots, transfer eggs without crushing them, sweep the floor, and fish.  It can do just about anything.

Chuck Hildreth was 18-years old when he was electrocuted, losing both of his arms.

Click here to WATCH CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez’s report

He’s been using a dual cable prosthetic hook, developed years ago. It’s a far cry from the Luke Arm which he was able to test.

“It’s remarkable,” said Hildreth.

He said the Luke Arm would not only give him back his self-worth but relieve his wife and kids of the burden of caring for him.

“This arm would free up for me to give back to them. To give them a break. For them to be part of a normal-ish family instead of ‘gee, we gotta help dad out,'” said Hildreth.

Matthew Albuquerque is a certified prosthetist who helps with the fitting and design of artificial limbs.  He said the Luke Arm is really something special.

“It gives people hope. It gives people hope that they would be able to do things that they may not thought they could do before,” said Albuquerque. “For the people out there who are missing a limb right now, this is a great day for them.”

The Luke arm gained FDA approval about a month ago.  They’re hoping to start supplying it to amputees within the next year or so.

Hildreth is anxiously awaiting its roll out.

“I hope I’m at the top of the list,” said Hildreth while laughing.

Funded by the Department of Defense, this invention comes from “Deka” in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The company is founded by Kamen who invented the Segway and many other medical devices and for soldiers who have a lost an arm in war, this invention is a real game-changer.

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