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40 year old man with robotic arms

Pavel_Bure 10

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Baugh, as Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory reports, is the first “bilateral shoulder-level amputee” to wear and control two modular prosthetic limbs at the same time. The technology has been in development for more than a decade. It was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and was tested on Baugh as part of an experimental program run at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Though his progress is groundbreaking, accomplishing this medical first was no easy feat. Baugh first had to undergo an intense surgery — performed by the institute’s medical director, Albert Chi — that rearranged (in medical terms, “reinnervated”) the nerves in his chest.

“I remember when I first came out from under it, the pain — I don’t even remember the original being that much excruciating pain,” Baugh said in a video released by the university.

After the surgery was complete, the doctors used a 360-degree scanning method to produce a prototype for a cast to fit around Baugh’s body. This was meant to function as both a support brace for his new limbs and a platform on which his reinnervated nerves could make the brain-to-chest nerve connections required to move.

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