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Dean Kamen's new Luke arm a game changer

Staff Report
July 09. 2016 6:17PM
Inventer Dean Kamen demonstrates DEKA's prosthetic arm at the company's headquarters in Manchester's Millyard in 2014. Mobius Bionics LLC, a new medical device company, has picked Universal Instruments Corp. of Binghamton, N.Y., to serve as the contract manufacturer for the Luke arm, the first prosthetic arm cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (UNION LEADER FILE)

MANCHESTER - Inventor Dean Kamen's prosthetic arm has found a company to bring it to the marketplace late this year.

Mobius Bionics LLC, a new medical device company, has picked Universal Instruments Corp. of Binghamton, N.Y., to serve as the contract manufacturer for the Luke arm, the first prosthetic arm cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

DEKA Research & Development Corp., based in Manchester, incorporated the latest technology in electronics, motors, batteries and materials to produce an arm that offers state-of-the-art flexibility, strength, and dexterity to provide greater independence for people with forearm through shoulder-level amputations.

Kamen, who also invented the Segway Human Transporter and the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics, developed the arm with at least $40 million in federal money.

The news comes after years of research and testing by nearly 100 amputees for more than 10,000 hours of use.

"Up to this point, design in prosthetic arms has been limited to incremental changes," said Kamen, president of DEKA, in a statement. "We developed the Luke arm to change the game for amputees - creating an innovative, integrated system that offers greater functionality and independence to our wounded warriors and other amputees."

The powered elbow, for example, offers the strength to lift a bag of groceries from the floor to tabletop while a hand can hold a phone, an egg or a gallon of milk without worrying that the item will slip or break.

Mobius Bionics said it is leveraging Universal Instruments' decades of experience manufacturing precision electromechanical solutions to produce the arm.

Mobius Bionics said it is taking names of people interested in owning the arm. Information is available at mobiusbionics.com.

The Luke arm was developed by DEKA Research & Development Corp. as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) prosthetics program with additional funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command through a contract with the Army Research Office.

DEKA teamed up with DARPA and the Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, working with amputees in multiple studies.

"Working one-on-one with the amputees and learning what they liked and didn't like about using prostheses proved invaluable to our product development process," Kamen said. "Thanks to their insight and input, we have been able to construct the most advanced FDA-cleared design that the world of upper-limb prosthetics has seen to date."


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