The DEKA Arm System has officially received FDA approval for marketing. The system is the first prosthetic arm to allow users to perform multiple movements at the same time through signals from electromyogram (EMG) electrodes.
The artificial limb works with the muscles close to the prosthesis -- when they contract, it causes electrical activity. This activity is detected by the EMG and is sent to a computer processor in the arm, which then results in movement. DEKA can perform 10 movements from these signals, but can also create movement with sensors and switches.
“The DEKA Arm System may allow some people to perform more complex tasks than they can with current prostheses in a way that more closely resembles the natural motion of the arm," said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
DEKA conducted a study which involved 36 participants using the new prosthetic arm. Ninety percent said they were able to perform activities with DEKA that they had not been able to do using other prosthetic systems. Activities included using keys and locks, preparing and eating food, using zippers and brushing or combing hair.
DEKA is currently available for limb loss at shoulder joints and the mid-upper and mid-lower arm. It is currently not available for limb loss at the elbow or wrist.