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Bionic Prosthesis Restores Hope for Amputee Victims

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In April 2006, Knoxville, Tennessee resident Amanda Kitts’ life changed forever after a massive SUV slammed into her small sports car; its axle nearly severing her arm. Doctors amputated her arm that night and for the next two years she suffered from depression as she struggled with everyday activities. Today, despite having her mobility robbed by the negligence of another, her life has been significantly improved because of scientific advancements in the field of prosthetics.

Catastrophic car collisions, such as this one, frequently result in arms and legs pinned beneath vehicles, crushed between crumpled automobile parts, or damaged to such an extent that amputation is the only recourse—a topic we recently discussed in detail in one of our informative blog posts.

In Amanda’s case, a targeted reinnervation procedure redirected nerve functions to the remaining muscles—allowing her to control the limb through thought.  Now, through research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic, she can feel her prosthetic hand and fingers move. This innovative procedure, which uses a brain-computer interface to apply pressure to points along the prosthesis, gives Amanda more than just hope: It makes the artificial limb seem real.

Amanda explains, “It’s been 12 years since I lost my arm. It’s another movement towards having a real hand, having a real arm. It’s amazing actually.”

This struggle for normalcy after a horrific accident is not unique to Amanda. There are nearly 2 million people living with limb loss in the United States. Each year, about 185,000 amputations occur in the United States. Tragically, nearly half of all these amputations are due to trauma–a horrible accident usually caused by someone’s misjudgment.

Like Amanda, each of these trauma victims must learn to live without a part of their body, a singularly difficult and emotional journey.

No less significant than the trauma of losing a limb is the arduous journey toward recovery that can include multiple surgeries, extensive physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments and time lost from careers. Thankfully, there are technological advancements in the works that can offer a brighter future to those who’ve lost a limb through no fault of their own.

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