Medical Device Innovation: FDA Approves the First Robotic Arm for Sale in the US

The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the sale of the “Deka arm”, a state of the art robotic arm, inspired by the original Star Wars Trilogy. It is to be used by amputees, and provides users the benefit of accurate and precise arm control. The robotic arm works by using its electrodes to detect small twitches within the arm muscles. This signal is then translated into the 10 different movements that are possible with the “Deka arm”. With this development, it is possible to carry out delicate tasks such as picking up an egg. About 90% of the device’s testers claimed to be capable of performing functions which were not possible with existing prosthetic technology. The founder of the company, Dean Kamen, claims that “the Deka system can be adapted for people with limb loss at the shoulder, mid upper arm and mid lower arm, but at the moment it cannot be adapted for limb loss at the elbow or wrist.”