The student biomedical engineering team Arm2u from the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering (ETSEIB) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) has developed a transradial prosthesis. It replaces an arm missing below the elbow. It is controlled by the natural electrical signals produced by muscle contraction, so the UPC in a press release.

After creating a first prosthesis last year, the team has taken a step forward by creating a second prototype, a fully functional robotic arm that enables hand pronosupination (forearm rotation) and opening/closing movements. It is based on EMG sensors, which collect the commands from the patient’s muscle contraction and transforms these electrical impulses into a signal that the microcontroller can understand and use.

The prosthesis is 3D printed with PLA plastic, so it can be produced at a low cost, as explained by Lluís Bonet Ortuño, one of the team leaders: “One of our main goals when developing the prosthesis was to make a prototype with affordable technologies so that it could be produced and modified constantly without a high cost. Using 3D printing, we have created a prosthesis at a much lower cost than similar prostheses on the market.”

Prototype parts

Designed entirely by the Arm2u team, the prototype includes four fundamental parts that work in a coordinated way to enable mobility: the socket, which holds firmly the device onto the limb; the prono, which stores most of the electronics and houses the control and status information elements of the prosthesis; the gripper, a clamp-shaped element to manipulate objects; and finally, the electronic part, which uses an Arduino Uno microcontroller to connect the sensors, motors and other elements for controlling the device and reporting its status to the user. 

The second model features several improvements, such as an integrated LCD screen, which reports continuously the status of the prosthesis providing information on battery life, the effort by fingertips, the interior temperature and more.

Additionally, the new design has enhanced adaptability that allows for adjustment to the user’s arm size, and a reduced total weight compared to the previous model, which makes it more comfortable.

Read the complete press release here.

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