Reconstructive Surgery: Bionic Arm Surgery
A specialized surgery was invented at Northwestern Memorial Hospital by Dr. Gregory Dumanian and Dr. Todd Kuiken for the treatment of high upper extremity amputee patients. This work was initially done in animal experiments by Dr. Kuiken. Together, they devised a treatment plan for humans. The procedures are performed by Dr. Dumanian.
"Targeted reinnervation" or more simply known as the "bionic arm" procedure, taps into the peripheral nervous system for the information needed to control a myoelectric prosthesis. The nerve signals that used to control the arm are transferred to local otherwise functionless muscles. The larger muscles then amplify the signal, so that the electric impulses can be picked up through the skin by sensors. There is nothing implanted, no wires, and no batteries. As the videos below will demonstrate, the motions after the bionic arm surgery are smooth, faster, and can occur with much less training.
Patients interested in this procedure should contact either Dr. Dumanian or Dr. Kuiken by email. Photos of your amputated extremity will help the physicians determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure. Until now, the patients have all had amputations above the elbow joint.
Bionic Arm Videos
Bionic Arm in patient with transhumeral amputation: an amputation above the elbow.
Bionic Arm in patient with shoulder disarticulation: an amputation at the shoulder.
Video of transhumeral TMR surgical procedure
Additional Resources on the Bionic Arm Procedure
- The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has articles from medical journals describing the procedure, and videos of some of our patients.
- Wikipedia entry on targeted reinnervation.
- New York Times article on targeted reinnervation.
Bionic Arm Procedure Articles by Dr. Dumanian