Bionic leg lets amputees walk normally and faster and more easily than with earlier artificial legs

Bionic leg lets amputees walk normally and faster and more easily than with earlier artificial legs
An artificial leg. But not the one in the Telegraph article.

“Robotic legs built by scientists and engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) use electrodes and a computer to decode the contractions of leg muscles in an amputated leg to turn ‘phantom’ movements into real steps,” reports the London Telegraph:

The amputee’s brain controls all the movements and allows them to walk normally without having to consciously focus on how to move their leg. Data show people who use the bionic legs walk 41 per cent faster than those with traditional prosthetic legs, and at a speed equivalent to people with two intact limbs.

Scientists recruited seven patients with one leg amputated below the knee for an operation where pairs of muscles that move a leg are connected…These people received the prosthetic robotic leg and were found to walk easier, quicker and more naturally compared to seven single-leg below-knee amputees who had the traditional operations and prostheses.

“We found a marked improvement in each patient’s ability with AMI amputation to walk at normal speed, to manoeuvre obstacles as well as to walk up and down steps and slopes,” said study author Prof Hugh Herr at MIT. “This is the first prosthetic study in history that shows a leg prosthesis under full neural modulation where a natural or biomimetic gait emerges. “No previous study was able to show this level of brain control that produces a natural gait where the human nervous system is controlling the movement, not a robotic algorithm.”…. The device allows the brain to control all the movements of the leg creating a gait identical to that of able-bodied individuals….There are investigations underway to also apply the findings…to arm amputees.

Scientists have developed tiny robots made of human cells to repair damaged cells. And Arizona State University scientists “have successfully programmed nanorobots to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply,” fighting cancer.

The world’s first anti-epilepsy device has been fitted into a boy’s skull.

Brain implants are now being used to restore cognitive abilities wiped out by traumatic brain injuries, enabling people to work again, and do things they previously couldn’t do because of their brain injury, such as reading, avoiding getting speeding tickets, and grocery shopping.

Skull implants could also fight depression. A child has been cured of a type of brain cancer that previously always killed people who had it.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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