New Hampshire

LUKE Arm: New Prosthesis Technology Can Help Veterans, Others

New technology displayed in New Hampshire Thursday could bring a new sense of normalcy to people who have lost limbs.

Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics, Inc. and DEKA Research and Development demonstrated the LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) arm for the public in Manchester.

The LUKE arm is a modular prosthetic arm developed by DEKA and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. According to Next Step, the LUKE arm is configurable for people who are amputated from shoulder to forearm. The hand has four pre-programmed grips.

In 2007, DARPA awarded what would be become a multi-year, $40 million contract to DEKA for an advanced prosthesis that would be minimally invasive and easily controlled.

The public demonstration showed how the arm works on its recipients, Ron Currier and Chuck Hildreth. Both men are missing at least part of their arms and hands.

Currier lost his hands in the Air Force. He was electrocuted.

"This arm right here is the closest thing to a real hand that I've had in 43 years," Currier said.

Currier has engineer and inventor Dean Kamen of DEKA to thank for that.

"These people have literally given their arms for this country," Kamen said. "We can't keep giving them the same 150-year-old technology that military gave soldiers in the Civil War."

Matthew Albuquerque is the CEO of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics. They're the first to try the LUKE arms out.

"Those little boxes on his feet send wireless signals up to the arm so he can move the prosthesis, however he wants to move his feet," Albuquerque said.

"These are going to give me back my new normal," said Currier.

The LUKE arms starts at $150,000 if you're not a veteran. Albuquerque said he hopes as more are made, the cost will decrease.

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