Meet Les Baugh, a hard-hitting man. We all make mistakes, but some can result in tragic consequences. Forty years ago, at the age of just 17, he was fooling his stepbrother around. The last challenged him to a race which ended with a huge tragedy. Baugh stood in a series of power lines. The strong electric shock – the doctors didn’t give him a chance to live up to his 21st birthday. In addition – both hands were amputated, and the doctors felt his legs would not heal, and he would not be able to move. “I didn’t have an chance,” he says. “All that I had left was gone.”
But Les soon made his first steps, with a strong will to life. Now he was forced to learn to live without hands. Daily manipulations developed into torture. In his usual everyday schedule, he needed help all the time and someone had to be there with him the entire day. And now, 40 years after he got another chance to relive a normal life again. Thanks to the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, he got two robotic arms which are operated only with his thoughts.
The prothesis was worked out taking into account all its needs and demands. First, learning how to use the robotic limbs was hard for Baugh but now he can operate them pretty quickly. And the accuracy is impressive-it ‘s not a big deal for him to grab a ping pong ball.
In order to achieve these shocking but impressive results, Les had to undergo a severe surgery called ‘targeted muscle innervation.’ Dr. Albert Chi, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, says this type of surgery is an entire innovation. Nerves that once controlled the arm and the hand are called to be reassigned. Lately they are connected to the prothetic arms and guarantee complete control of the construction.
Les Baugh had to wait until complete recovery to try on his new limbs after the surgery. Scientists’ team analyzed pattern recognition algorithms data to identify how exactly its muscles work. They later programmed the robotic arms to repeat all these moves.
But that huge building still needed additional support to maintain its natural position. This is why the scientists added custom sockets to the shoulders and torso that had to be attached. Even its own look impressed Baugh. He said he found himself somehow in a different reality but was willing to go further and do whatever the team demanded.
And there have been too many tests before they can really start trying new weapons in action. Just 10 days after the start of the experiment – Les Baugh has shown impressive results. He managed to get cups, balls and even shelves moved. His movements’ speed, by the way, was much higher than anyone could expect.
His arms are working fairly similar to human anatomy at this moment. Les is able to repeat all the movements he ‘d made with his real hands while he still had them. Scientists believe that they will soon be able to send poor man back home with fully working limbs that can make his life great again.