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Neurarm: A Novel Brain Controlled Prosthetic Alternative for Transhumeral Amputees

This is an update from the OpenBCI Discovery Program. (Image Credit)

A couple of days ago, I was funded by OpenBCI’s Discovery Program to build the Neurarm biotech interface. Neurarm is a brain-computer interface prosthetic arm device that leverages OpenBCI’s EMG (electric muscle movement) and EEG (electric brain activity) signal reading technologies to create a flexible, realistic, and intuitive prosthetic arm for transhumeral amputees, or individuals who have had their appendages removed (typically for medical reasons). Neurarm is also a solution for people who arm born without limbs or have lost limbs. The arm itself will be 3D printed to optimize for the flexibility to mimic a real arm.

To develop the BCI interface for the device, I’ll be leveraging multiple products from OpenBCI, especially their Cyton Biosensing Board, Gel Electrodes, and the latest Mark IV Ultracortex headset to begin collecting EMG and EEG data. From there, I’ll also be making a smart neural network to categorize the different frequencies in the data, and attribute them to certain movements. Here’s an example using arbitrary numbers: 1 Hz in EMG data correlates to a balled fist. This is an example of how the neural network will be able to reason what the user wants to do based on their electrical readings. The board from OpenBCI will allow me to visualize and collect the data effectively, while OpenBCI’s other devices will help me get accurate readings for my neural network.

In the US alone, over 3,000 people lose a limb or are amputated each week, prosthetics cost a median of $10,000, and over 2 million people live without a limb. This means that each week, an average of $30,000,000 should be spent per week on every new amputee. However, the average household income in the US is $63,179. Therefore, over 50% of people in the United States – a country denoted as “1st world” – still can’t afford the prosthetics they need. This is over 1,500 people every week and over 78,214 people per year, not counting the 2 million people in the US currently living without a limb. in countries with less economic access, like rural parts of India and Pakistan, the problem is even worse. Prosthetics are not cost-effective whatsoever and are largely unintuitive unless the patient is paying the maximum price of around $50,000. This device could also be repurposed to completely automate different fields, such as a brain controlled arm for precision surgery.

Developed by: Okezue Bell
Funding and Materials: OpenBCI’s Discovery Program, 3D Print
Mentorship From: The Knowledge Society, Harvard University, Robotics Company

If you want to keep up with this project, I’ll be creating a YouTube series and a dedicated website! Until then, you can keep up with the project on my website, blog, and newsletter! Don’t forget to subscribe to each, and thanks to OpenBCI for making this project possible!

Hopefully you keep up with the project, and I can’t wait to share more progress soon! Let me know if you’re interested in helping me out too!




This sounds great! I am also working on a very similar project with OpenBCI and amputees. We should collab when time allows.

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