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The extraordinary story of the man who's getting the most advanced robotic arm in the world (Johns Hopkins University)

Quartz

July 12, 2017

 

Johnny describes himself as a person constantly in motion, whether he’s talking about his childhood in West Virginia or his job working 18-hour days delivering bread.

That all changed in 2005, when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in the connective tissue of his arm. Over two years, he had five surgeries and 27 radiation treatments.

Then, doctors presented him with a choice.

He’s pinned his hopes on new type of prosthetic arm: the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL).

A team at Johns Hopkins University built the arm with funding from the Pentagon, through DARPA, its advanced research division.

And it’s unlike any robot prosthetic before it.

The arm has an unprecedented range of motion for a robotic arm, with 26 joints, 17 of which can move independently.

It’s modular, meaning it can replace an amputee’s hand, forearm, or the entire arm, up to the shoulder.

Oh, and it’s mind-controlled.

Johnny has been working with the arm since 2014, traveling nearly 1,000 miles to Johns Hopkins from his home in Florida.

Twenty three amputees have tested the arm, but there’s something different about Johnny.

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