The Deka arm is the 1st prosthetic arm to translate muscle signals into action that’s approved for the U.S. market. The device won de novo approval from the FDA in May 2014. It’s designed to perform multiple, simultaneous powered movements, controlled by electrical signals from electromyogram electrodes. The electrodes sense electrical activity in muscles near the prosthesis and send signals to a processor that translates them into movement.
The device, which is the same shape and weight as a human arm, can convert the signals into up to 10 powered movements. The Deka arm as approved by the FDA can be configured for limb loss at the shoulder joint, mid-upper arm or mid-lower arm; it can’t be configured for limb loss at the elbow or wrist joint.
The Defense Dept. contract calls for Deka to advise the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Hand Proprioception & Touch Interfaces program on the setup and operation of the arm systems under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics Follow-on Studies program, according to a press release.
The contract also calls for Deka to provide technical support, maintenance and repair for the arm systems, the Defense Dept. said.
DARPA’s HAPTIX program is slated to develop closed-loop control of the Deka arm “in order to provide amputees with the feel and function of natural limbs,” the DoD said, using a year-long, take-home trial of the arm.
“These efforts will position the government with the required data to seek market approval and deliver the system into the wider patient population,” according to the release. The agency aims to provide the FDA with an approved variation on the Deka arm for use in research, which in turn is aimed at winning reimbursement approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“These studies will also validate prescription criteria and explore other control techniques with the aim of ensuring the DISC arm system can accommodate the broadest user community possible,” the Defense Dept. said.