Health Matters: New Option for Amputees

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Advancements in technology are helping amputees have better control of their prosthetic limbs.

Jacob Mauterstock lost an arm in a farming accident nearly a year ago.

Lifting weights and staying fit is part of his lifestyle. It's what he enjoys and nothing's going to stop him from going to the gym. Not even a tractor accident.

"The sleeve of my coat got stuck in a tractor PTO shaft," he explains about the incident that essentially ripped off his arm. "It's been slow, it's been tough. But I'm blessed to still be here."

Jacob's robotic arm is a prototype that comes with different devices.

"Once the forearm of the elbow locks, then it will control the terminal device," he continues.

While he's adjusted, Jacob is waiting on something bigger, a myoelectric prosthetic.

He will be the first in Arkansas to use the latest technology thanks to a newer surgery called Targeted Muscle Reinnervation.

"We take some of the nerves that are still existing in the amputated arm, that used to go down to the hand to control functions like closing your fingers, opening your fingers, and plug it into muscles left in the upper arm to serve as a signal to control a robotic arm," says Dr. John Bracey, UAMS Orthopeadic Surgeon.

For instance, when Jacob thinks to move his hand, the nerves associated with hand movements will trigger a sensor in the myoelectric to move his hand.

"When you have an injury like this, the nerves that used to go to the hand and the forearm are still there in the arm and we can still use those 10 years later," Dr. Bracey adds.

"I'm pumped. I'm excited. I can't wait," says Jacob.

In the meantime, Jacob is pushing ahead, with help from technology.

He will get his myoelectric prosthetic in a few months.

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