Prosthetic Arm Lets Veteran Scale Climbing Wall in Inspiring Video

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Advances in technology may result in cool, flashy stuff like robotic dogs and self-zipping zippers, but it's also revolutionizing the field of prosthetics. This inspiring video shows a former Army volunteer with a prosthetic arm getting up the climbing wall at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The arm is a DEKA arm — conceived by (and named after) inventor Dean Kamen, funded by DARPA and recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for widespread use.

The version shown is controlled with special movements of the foot, but research is well underway to connect the arm to tissue in the chest, allowing the user to move it and adjust the grip more naturally. Other prosthetics under development at DARPA and elsewhere could hook into unused nerves in the arm or leg, and even send signals back — basically an artificial sense of touch.

The "old" method of manipulating the artificial arm didn't seem to be a problem for the man in the video — NBC News confirmed with DARPA that he made it to the top.



—Devin Coldewey