Battle-injured UK soldier receives mind-controlled robot arm

11 December 2013 (Last Updated December 11th, 2013 18:30)

A UK soldier, who had his right arm smacked off by a rocket-propelled grenade during a war in Afghanistan three years ago, is now the very first British individual to receive a mind-controlled prosthetic limb.

Corporal Garthwaite with mind-controlled robot arm

A UK soldier, who had his right arm dismembered by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan three years ago, is now the very first British individual to receive a mind-controlled prosthetic limb.

The 26-year old Corporal Andrew Garthwaite has been fitted with the thought-controlled biotic robot after a revolutionary six-hour nerve transfer surgery called 'targeted muscle reinnervation' in Vienna and 18 months of physiotherapy at a military rehabilitation centre in Surrey.

Hailed as the future of prosthetic recovery, the operation involved rewiring Garthwaite's nerves, and hooking up the nerve fibres to his chest muscles, while the electrodes positioned on his chest send signals into the bionic arm and allow him to control the prosthesis.

Corporal Garthwaite said that the surgery has made a massive improvement to his life.

Garthwaite said, "I have become a lot more independent and all the normal things I was struggling with have become so much easier.

"I am now able to participate more in the kitchen - simple tasks like making a coffee, baking cakes and opening jars have made a real difference."

"The limb prosthesis can be directed by the mind by centering thoughts on the nerves connected to muscles in the chest, and it reacts naturally to the thoughts."

The latest intelligent upper limb prosthesis can be directed by the mind by centering thoughts on the nerves connected to muscles in the chest, and it reacts naturally to the thoughts.

UK Defence Minister Anna Soubry said that it has been an immense privilege to have witnessed this revolutionary mind-controlled prosthetic in action.

Soubry said, "I am delighted that we were able to fund Corporal Andrew Garthwaite's life-changing surgery and rehabilitation. I am committed to making sure our injured personnel get the best possible medical care and support.

"That is why we committed £6.5 million earlier this year to provide our injured personnel with the most technologically-advanced prosthetics where clinically appropriate."


Image: Garthwaite is the first UK individual to receive the 'mind-controlled' robot arm. Photo: courtesy of Sergeant Pete Mobbs, Crown.

Defence Technology