A Colorado man can now control two prosthetic arms with his mind.
Les Baugh lost both his arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago. But with the help Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), he's able to control a set of Modular Prosthetic Limbs with his nerves. All he has to do is think about moving his arms, and they move.
Nothing is permanently attached to him; Baugh wears what is called a "socket," which connects the prosthetics to his body. The researchers measured the way his muscles and nerves react when Baugh thinks about moving his arms. Then, when he thinks about moving his arms and hands in a certain way, the prosthetics move.
Baugh is the first bilateral shoulder-level amputee to wear two Modular Prosthetic Limbs at once, according to the researchers. He's spending a lot of time practicing different tasks.
"Maybe I'll be able to -- for once -- be able to put change in a pop machine and get the pop out of it," Baugh said in a video about the breakthrough. "Simple things like that that most people never think of." He can only use the arms in the lab for now, but someday he will have two of his own.
"I think we're just getting started at this point. It's like the early days of the Internet," Mike McLoughlin, the program manager at Johns Hopkins' Revolutionizing Prosthetics, said in the video. "There's just a tremendous amount of potential ahead of us, and we just started down this road. I think the next five, 10 years are going to bring some really phenomenal advancements."
Check out a video of Baugh and the researchers here: